Australia’s Infrastructure Priorities in 2021

3 March 2021

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.

“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,” said Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew.

“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.

“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 under way 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),” Ms Madew said.

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
  • Addressing challenges around strategic planning for water capture, use and management

“COVID-19 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% 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.

“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.

“We are at a crossroads between addressing existing infrastructure gaps and prioritising investments that will secure our future prosperity, with 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,” Ms Madew said.

The full list of projects and initiatives is in the report.