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Tue September 21 2021

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Australia publishes national infrastructure plan

6 Sep Infrastructure Australia has published a plan that sets out a 15-year roadmap of works intended to drive recovery while improving resilience and sustainability.

The 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan calls for a new wave of infrastructure reform to leverage the Australian government’s AU$110bn (£59bn) 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 the standard of living and improve the resilience and sustainability of 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.”

She added: “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.”

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The plan says that key opportunities include:

  • Supporting growth outside the 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, so that 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 collaboration with governments, industry and communities. “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,” said Madew.

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 provides Infrastructure Australia’s 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 its Infrastructure Beyond Covid-19 report.

The latest 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.

Key themes of the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan are:

  • Change and uncertainty - re-thinking Australia’s infrastructure to deal with the current environment of change, uncertainty and risk​;
  • moment in digitalisation – harnessing technology and innovation in infrastructure to drive new industries;
  • unlocking the potential of every place – embracing the challenges and opportunities afforded by Australia’s diverse geography​;
  • minimum service levels – responding to the vastness of Australia while supporting quality of life for all Australians;
  • delivering public value – ensuring the infrastructure industry is delivering value for money; ​
  • customer empowerment through data – using data to change the way infrastructure is delivered in Australia.

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