Infrastructure Australia has added a record number of new investment opportunities to the Infrastructure Priority List, in a major update that reflects the changing infrastructure needs of Australia’s cities, regions and remote communities in the wake of COVID-19.
Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, said the 2021 Infrastructure Priority List is a comprehensive overview of nationally-significant infrastructure needs, providing an investment roadmap to guide Australia’s economic recovery and improve quality of life as we continue to absorb and respond to the shocks of COVID-19.
“We have added a record 44 new proposals to the Priority List for consideration by Australia’s governments across the broad spectrum of transport, energy, water, waste, telecommunications and social infrastructure. Spanning all key infrastructure sectors and highlighting investment opportunities across Australia’s unique geographies, the 2021 Priority List reflects our changing infrastructure needs,” Ms Madew said.
“More than half of the investment opportunities on the 2021 Priority List benefit our regional communities, as we continue to draw focus on equitable service delivery and investments that will deliver affordable and quality infrastructure services for all Australians regardless of where they live.”
“This year, 10 projects have moved off the Priority List and into the construction phase. Significant projects are getting underway and providing much needed economic activity. These projects include the M4 Motorway Upgrade (NSW), METRONET Morley-Ellenbrook Line (WA) and sections of the Bruce Highway and M1 Pacific Motorway (QLD),” she said.
Ms Madew said the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the way Australians use critical infrastructure.
“We have seen changing work patterns, a pause on Net Overseas Migration, and a 200 per cent increase in people moving from capital areas to regional areas. These changes present a range of new challenges and the Priority List looks to identify infrastructure investments that will meet the diverse needs of our communities in this new environment,” she said.
“Based on our own research and submissions from state and territory governments, industry and the community, the Priority List presents a consensus view of the investments needed in near, medium and long-term.”
“The importance of a robust, evidence-based investment pipeline has only increased as we look to recover from the dual health and economic crises of COVID-19, and grapple with further shocks and stresses including floods and bushfires, long-lasting drought, and a changing climate.”
Ms Madew said Australia is at a crossroads between addressing existing infrastructure gaps and prioritising investments that will secure a future prosperity, and noted that there is abundant opportunities to deliver infrastructure that responds to community needs.
“The 2021 Priority List, with its evidence-based proposals and clear focus on community outcomes, is a critical place to start,” she commented.
Chief Executive Officer of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA), Ainsley Simpson, said the Priority List is a welcome step towards a resilient, inclusive and low-emissions future.
“We have clear evidence that sustainable infrastructure projects not only deliver better environmental outcomes, but also maximise social, cultural and economic benefits,” Ms Simpson commented.
Independent analysis finds infrastructure projects rated under the IS Rating Scheme will deliver up to $2.40 in benefit for every dollar spent.
“These IS ratings will provide an assured evidence-base of sustainability performance during the postconstruction review process as Infrastructure Australia assesses each project’s outcomes against the expectations of the business case,” she said.
ISCA also welcomed the Priority List’s “holistic focus” on infrastructure projects across transport, utilities and social infrastructure. New projects on the list will address the international competitiveness of Australian ports, new energy sources and water scarcity.
“With 70 per cent of Australia’s emissions enabled by infrastructure, a holistic approach to infrastructure investment is fundamental to our resilient, inclusive and low-emissions future,” Ms Simpson concludes.
Key themes of the 2021 Infrastructure Priority List
- Opportunities to develop export gateways to support Australia’s international competitiveness;
- Investment in new sources of energy and enabling infrastructure for hydrogen exports;
- Driving economic development in regional communities and improving digital connectivity;
- Investment to support digital health services in regional and remote Australia; and
- Addressing challenges around strategic planning for water capture, use and management.
The Infrastructure Priority List 2021 can be found here.
The 2021 edition of the Priority List identifies a $59 billion project pipeline, with 6 High Priority Projects, 17 Priority Projects, 48 High Priority Initiatives and 109 Priority Initiatives.
‘Projects’ are advanced proposals that have a fully developed business case that has been positively assessed by the independent Infrastructure Australia Board. Projects remain on the Priority List until delivery or constructions begins.
‘Initiatives’ are proposals that Infrastructure Australia has determined have the potential to address a nationally significant problem or opportunity. Infrastructure Australia includes them on the Priority List to indicate that further development and rigorous assessment of these proposals is a national priority.
Infrastructure Australia’s role is to advise on national infrastructure priorities and assesses the economic merits of projects with fully-developed business cases. Funding decisions are made by governments or the private sector.
How the Infrastructure Priority List is developed:
To develop the Priority List, Infrastructure Australia draws its own independent research including the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit and Infrastructure Beyond COVID-19 report, as well as submissions from state and territory governments, industry and the community.
Proposals are assessed for inclusion on the Priority List using Infrastructure Australia’s detailed Assessment Framework. The Framework acts as a guide for understanding the problem or opportunity that a given project is trying to solve, whether it has strategic value, and whether it represents good value for taxpayers.
Through this process, Infrastructure Australia promotes long-term, integrated land use planning and advises governments on nationally-significant infrastructure investments that will deliver the necessary outcomes for the community at the best value.