Infrastructure Australia has today published its landmark 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan, calling for a new wave of infrastructure reform to fully leverage the Australian Government’s historic $110 billion infrastructure spend and drive the national COVID-19 recovery.
The 2021 Plan provides Australia’s infrastructure sector with a 15-year roadmap to drive economic growth, maintain and enhance our standard of living and improve the resilience and sustainability of our essential infrastructure.
Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew said: “The 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan is being delivered at a critical moment in our history. The pandemic, bushfires, drought, floods, and cyber-attacks have tested our collective resilience during recent years, while the most recent outbreaks have devastated our CBDs and put us at risk of a recession.
“The 2021 Plan outlines the reforms that will underscore future Australian economic growth. It is focused on identifying the actions required to deliver infrastructure for a stronger Australia and support our national recovery from the still-unfolding COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Madew said.
“Building back better requires collective action from governments and industry, which combines both investment and reform. We have seen significant investment in the infrastructure sector since the start of the pandemic, but to drive the next phase of the national recovery, we need to pursue reforms that unlock the full benefits of stimulus spending.
“Infrastructure investment is at record levels across Australia, demonstrated by the Australian Government’s historic $110 billion infrastructure commitment. The 2021 Plan highlights the importance of leveraging this investment through targeted reform to deliver better infrastructure services for our communities,” Ms Madew said.
The 2021 Plan provides Infrastructure Australia’s reform pathway to respond to the 180 infrastructure challenges and opportunities identified in the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit.
It also responds to the additional infrastructure impacts of the pandemic, including the challenges and opportunities outlined in our Infrastructure Beyond COVID-19 report.
Key opportunities include:
- Supporting growth outside our largest cities, in regional centres and northern Australia
- Investing in transformative technology to deliver affordable and sustainable infrastructure services
- Promoting changes to the behaviour around infrastructure use, empowering Australians to make sustainable choices
- Greater transparency and coordination of the project pipeline and reforms to improve industry productivity
- More collaborative models of infrastructure delivery to support productivity and innovation.
The reform roadmap outlined in the 2021 Plan reflects an industry consensus that was developed in close collaboration with governments, industry and communities. As part of this, Infrastructure Australia completed a comprehensive engagement program that targeted more than 6,500 community members and industry stakeholders across Australia’s cities and regions.
“This collaboration has helped ensure our reform recommendations have broad support, are practical and actionable and provides the strong foundation needed to deliver lasting reform,” Ms Madew said.
Infrastructure Australia’s role is to work collaboratively alongside government, industry, and the community to support the implementation of reforms needed in the infrastructure sector. In line with this, Infrastructure Australia worked to ensure the reform agenda outlined in the 2021 Plan was practical and actionable.
To support the adoption and implementation of reforms across government and industry, each reform identified in the 2021 Plan incorporates a recommendation, which is supported by interim outcomes and a series of enabling activities.
The 2021 Plan also identifies parties to sponsor, lead and support reform as well as the time-period for their adoption. Importantly, each recommendation prioritises community and user outcomes and balances them with implementation costs and risks for government
“The challenge of progressing the reforms outlined in the 2021 Plan is a shared one – that is why we stand ready to partner with the Commonwealth, states and territories, local government and industry to support the implementation of reform.
“While the Australian Government will respond to the 2021 Plan, many of the actions across water, transport, energy, waste and social infrastructure require action from state and territory or local government. Lasting reform will require increased collaboration,” Ms Madew said.
The 2021 Plan includes Waste and Social Infrastructure for the first time, alongside Energy, Transport, Telecommunications, and Water. It also focuses on three cross-cutting key themes Place (Cities, Regions, Rural and Remote Areas, and Northern Australia), Sustainability and Resilience, and the infrastructure Industry.