Infrastructure Australia (IA), the Rudd Government’s newly established agency tasked with coordinating a national approach to Australia’s future infrastructure needs, has completed an audit of the nation’s economic assets and listed infrastructure proposals for prioritisation.
IA’s analysis identified seven themes to drive development of Australia’s infrastructure in a way that addresses gaps and deficiencies. These seven themes are:
- Developing a more extensive, globally competitive broadband system;
- Extending the national energy grids so there's greater flexibility and competition in our power and gas markets, whilst creating new opportunities for renewable energy resources;
- Improving port productivity and associated land transport links;
- Lifting the amount of freight shifted by rail;
- Preparing for the impact of climate change on the nation’s water supplies;
- Expanding public transport services within cities and making better use of existing infrastructure; and
- Improving services to Indigenous communities.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese: "Nation building is vital to address urban congestion, lift future productivity and economic growth, and assist the transformation to a carbon constrained economy."
Past infrastructure decision-making in Australia has been criticised for being considered in isolation, lacking cooperation and being based on short-term horizons. The planning work being undertaken by IA is about making sure Australia has the infrastructure it needs to meet the economic, social and environmental demands of the twenty-first century.
For this to happen, Sir Rod Eddington, the chair of IA, emphasised the need for cooperation between federal and state governments and the private sector to develop a “long term strategy and to deliver real improvements” in the areas targeted.
This process is to consist of numerous components, and would be guided by efforts to efficiently use existing infrastructure and resources and to give regard to economic, social and environmental benefits when considering possible projects.
In delivering its report, IA has focussed on how best to optimise the roles played by both the public and private sectors in future infrastructure development. IA recognises both public and private sectors have a role to play in “planning, construction and financing” of future developments.
To this end, IA’s report looks at how a fundamental part of a project is in determining whether it would be best financed by either the public or private sectors. A key consideration for private sector funding is whether a project will be commercially viable without government funding assistance, and whether the private sector can deliver value for money in meeting public objectives.
To help in the development of proposals for future Commonwealth projects, IA has published a series of guidelines for a National Public Private Partnership policy. More information on this and any of the above points can be found at http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications.aspx.