Infrastructure Australia has received additional funding in the 2020-21 Federal Budget to provide reform and investment advice in support of the infrastructure-led COVID recovery.
This funding will ensure Infrastructure Australia is resourced to:
1) Expand the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan to respond to COVID-19;
2) Lead new research on the capacity of the infrastructure sector to deliver the investment pipeline; and
3) Conduct an 18-month comprehensive reset of the Infrastructure Australia Assessment Framework, the basis for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List.
Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, said the additional resources will be used to advise Australia’s governments on the investments and reforms needed to accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year’s Budget has provided further investment in a sector already undertaking record levels of activity. This additional funding will support improved planning and decision-making to avoid constraints and overheating in the sector, reflective of the impacts of COVID-19,” Ms Madew said.
“This expanded role for Infrastructure Australia as the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor speaks to the importance of infrastructure in the COVID-19 recovery and the Australian Government’s ongoing support for independent oversight,” she commented.
In an extension of work first requested by the Prime Minister and other First Ministers at COAG in March, Infrastructure Australia has been tasked with delivering annual analytical assessments of infrastructure market capacity.
Ms Madew said that as Australia looks to catalyse economic growth, understanding the impacts of COVID-19 on infrastructure needs to be a priority.
“Infrastructure Australia’s research will bring together Commonwealth, State and Territory and industry data to provide an annual snapshot of market capacity to support targeted investment and reform,” she detailed.
Ms Madew noted that prior to the pandemic, Australia had been struggling to address challenges such as population growth in our cities and other major shifts that impacted how we use infrastructure.
“COVID-19 has shown we need to think differently about how we plan for times of uncertainty. Beyond capital projects, we need to focus on reform to shape Australia’s long-term recovery response,” she said.
“We now have an opportunity to collaborate with government, industry and community to get the long-term settings right, and this begins with ensuring the next Australian Infrastructure Plan presents the best possible reform response to COVID-19 – guiding Australia’s long-term recovery and providing a blueprint for lasting reform.”
“Over the last 12 months Infrastructure Australia has been focused on improving the efficiency of our business case assessments. In an extension of that work, we are pleased to have the opportunity to conduct a major reset of the Assessment Framework, which is our methodology for assessing proposals for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List.”
Ms Madew added that communities rightly expect decisions on public infrastructure projects to be robust, transparent and accountable.
“We want to ensure that our assessment process continues to champion this, while also supporting quality proposal development and enabling publicly-funded projects to come to market quickly,” she confirmed.
“Harmonising and streamlining Infrastructure Australia’s Framework with State and Commonwealth guidelines will be a key focus of this project.”