A blueprint for the establishment of Infrastructure WA (IWA) was released today, setting out a new approach to long-term infrastructure planning in Western Australia to create jobs.
Focused on ensuring investment is made in the right projects, at the right time, and generating a pipeline of jobs in WA, Premier Mark McGowan invited industry groups and the public to provide feedback on the proposed model.
“For too long, the State has suffered from a short-term focus on infrastructure planning. There is a strong need for a co-ordinated, long-term vision to build the infrastructure we need in the right place and at the right time,” the Premier said.
IWA will be an independent board tasked with providing government expert advice on the State’s infrastructure needs and priorities, maximising the value to Western Australia from every dollar spent on major proposals developed by government agencies.
Infrastructure WA’s other main roles will include:
- Developing a 20-year strategy for infrastructure and industry investment;
- Applying more rigour and transparency in evaluating infrastructure plans, business cases and decision-making;
- Providing advice on alternative funding and financing options; and
- Improving collaboration with government, community and industry on infrastructure planning and delivery.
The model, which recommends that IWA be enshrined in legislation to provide certainty and help foster a bipartisan approach, proposes the board is made up of government and non-government representatives reporting directly to the Premier.
Questioning Infrastructure WA’s independence
The industry association for consulting firms in the built environment, Consult Australia, has already issued a response.
Steve Coghlan, WA State Manager for Consult Australia, said “it’s critical that we do not just get any type of infrastructure body, but the right type of infrastructure body with genuine independence locked in by statute.”
“Infrastructure WA must not be ‘independence-lite’ reporting to the government-of-the-day as oppose to parliament. This could risk the clash of short and long-term cycles, with decades of foresight required for infrastructure potentially lost in the weeks of an election trail.”
“This is a view shared by the Western Australian Economic Regulation Authority which reported that, “political imperatives often cause projects to be rushed through proposed planning processes, with the result that project outcomes are materially compromised.”
“Reporting to parliament would protect infrastructure planning from chop-and-change election-based policy, strengthening the democratic process, and reducing the risk of wasting taxpayers’ money. It would ensure we can plan beyond the short term for sustainable economic growth which this state so urgently requires.”
Earlier this year Consult Australia published a report analysing all existing infrastructure bodies and recommending a set of principles to be followed in each jurisdiction.
The six-week public consultation period closes on March 20, 2018. Industry stakeholders are also invited to register for an information forum at https://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/infrastructurewa