Indigenous Australians and fast trains: new agency details


Two new executive agencies were gazetted by the federal government last week — one to build the nation’s high-speed rail capacity, and the other to lead Indigenous policy, program design and implementation.

The new agencies are part of the broader machinery of government changes and ministry appointments announced by the Morrison government last week, following its surprise reelection.

National Indigenous Australians Agency

The National Indigenous Australians Agency will come into being on July 1, following an order made by the governor-general.

Ken Wyatt, the recently named minister for Indigenous Australians and the country’s first Aboriginal cabinet minister, will be in charge of the executive agency.

Announcing the NIAA, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would be “attached to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet”.

According to the gazette, the functions of the agency will be:

  • Lead and coordinate Commonwealth policy development, program design and implementation and service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • Provide advice to the prime minister and the minister for Indigenous Australians on whole-of-government priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • Lead and coordinate the development and implementation of Australia’s closing the gap targets in partnership with Indigenous Australians;
  • Lead Commonwealth activities to promote reconciliation;
  • Build and maintain effective partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, state and territory governments and other relevant stakeholders to inform whole-of-government priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and enable policies, programs and services to be tailored to the unique needs of communities;
  • Design, consult on and coordinate the delivery of community development employment projects;
  • Analyse and monitor the effectiveness of programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including programs and services delivered by bodies other than the agency;
  • Coordinate Indigenous portfolio agencies and advance a whole-of-government approach to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and
  • Undertake other tasks the prime minister and the minister require from time to time.

National Faster Rail Agency

To guide Australia as it hurtles towards the transport of the future, the National Faster Rail Agency will also come into being on July 1.

The agency will serve Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.

Its functions are listed as:

  • Lead the development and implementation of the Commonwealth government’s 20-year fast rail plan;
  • Oversee the development of business cases with state and territory governments, ensuring that population and transport policy objectives are met;
  • Identify additional rail corridors that would benefit from faster rail services over the long term, in consultation with state and territory governments, industry and stakeholders;
  • Work with relevant state and territory governments in the delivery of faster rail construction projects;
  • Develop an investment strategy recommending how faster rail projects can be staged to link future expenditure to investment need, and increase community and industry confidence to reduce market pressures;
  • Work in partnership with the Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency to explore alternative funding and financing options for faster rail, such as private sector contributions and value capture opportunities; and
  • Provide advice on options to future proof corridors for high-speed rail, including the need for technical guidelines, corridor planning and protection.

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