Infrastructure Australia is born

Federal Cabinet has formally approved the establishment of Infrastructure Australia.

Infrastructure Australia is designed to "fight inflation by boosting the economy’s productive capacity, unlocking infrastructure bottlenecks like clogged ports and congested roads", said the government’s press release.

Legislation establishing Infrastructure Australia will be introduced during the first session of the new Parliament.

Infrastructure Australia will be a statutory advisory council with twelve members drawn from industry, government and local government. This will include five from the private sector, one of whom will be the chair. Infrastructure Australia will:

    * Conduct audits to determine the adequacy, capacity and condition of nationally significant infrastructure, including transport, water, communications and energy.

    * Develop an Infrastructure Priority List to guide billions of dollars of public and private investment.

    * Provide advice to governments, investors and owners of infrastructure on regulatory reforms that can improve the utilisation of our infrastructure networks.

Infrastructure Australia’s immediate task will be to audit the nation’s infrastructure shortfalls and produce an Infrastructure Priority List to guide billions of dollars of public and private investment.

The first Infrastructure Priority List is promised to be completed within 12 months. In developing the List, Infrastructure Australia will assess projects in terms of specific goals, such as:

    * Meeting water and energy needs;

    * Saving time for commuters battling traffic congestion in our major cities

    * Efficiently moving freight from regional areas to our ports.

    * Meeting the challenge of climate change

Infrastructure Australia will also review the extent to which governments can better facilitate infrastructure investment, including through public-private partnerships as well as better planning and approval processes.

The OECD ranks Australia 20th out 25 countries when it comes to investment in public infrastructure as a proportion of national income. The government’s approval today for the creation of Infrastructure Australia is an important step forward in establishing key national infrastructure objectives and developing a national plan for priority projects says Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the nation’s peak infrastructure body.

“The creation of Infrastructure Australia is the most important reform this sector has ever seen when it comes to having much-needed national leadership to meet Australia’s critical infrastructure needs” said IPA Chairman Mark Birrell.

“The major impediment to the delivery of key projects across Australia has been a lack of policy and project coordination between governments, and between government and the private sector.

“This new statutory advisory council will bring all of Australia’s governments and importantly the private sector together in one strategic coordinating body, enhancing information exchange and aligning government and industry to meet the national interest.

“By limiting the Infrastructure Australia Board to just 12 members, the Government will ensure that it is an efficient body focussed on outcomes and not merely a ‘think tank’.

“Infrastructure Australia’s Board will comprise of representatives from the Commonwealth, the states and territories and from local Government and will include five from the private sector. This will give the agency a great mix of skills from a range of viewpoints, ensuring all angles can be covered in meeting national objectives.

“Drawing five members from the private sector – including the Chairman – will give the agency deep commercial knowledge and equip the Minister with the right mix of policy and project execution skills from a range of viewpoints.

“Infrastructure Australia will undertake the first-ever audit of Australia’s infrastructure. This audit will give a forward looking picture of the most pressing projects and infrastructure shortfalls across the country.

“Infrastructure Australia’s audit will allow the government to streamline the delivery of the most urgent projects first, meeting the demands of a booming economy and growing population.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia will promote development partnerships between government and the

private sector to deliver superior infrastructure and services, on time and on budget.

“We understand it will also be charged with streamlining certain regulatory, legal and planning codes across the nation, slashing red-tape to allow large projects to be delivered on time and at least cost to the taxpayer.

“The Government’s infrastructure plan had been well communicated to construction and finance companies over the last year and there has been a detailed dialogue between business and the Government on how to deliver Australia’s next round of infrastructure."

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