More than 6,500 stakeholders were involved in the consultation process that has resulted in the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan, launched last week via a virtual forum by Infrastructure Australia.
Those consulted for input on the plan, which encourages further infrastructure reform and spending to help the country exit the economic funk caused by the coronavirus pandemic, include community members and various industry stakeholder groups.
It has resulted in a series of documents that include the 649-page infrastructure plan, a 232-page implementation pathway, and also detailed plans to support changes in six sectors.
The released suite of documents builds on an infrastructure priority list that was released in February this year, an infrastructure audit that was conducted in 2019, and a report released in December 2020 looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on infrastructure.
Romilly Madew, Infrastructure Australia’s chief executive officer, said the plan was designed to drive national recovery at a time when the country is still recovering from natural disasters and grappling with the impact of COVID 19.
“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,” Madew said.
“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.”
Key features of the infrastructure blueprint include encouraging growth in regional areas and Australia’s North, increasing spending in transformative technologies to lower the cost of service delivery, promote changes in the use of infrastructure so that people are encouraged to make sustainable choices, promoting greater transparency and coordination of infrastructure project pipeline to boost productivity, and creating models for greater collaboration to support productivity and innovation.
The report says that Australia has an economy that has performed well through the many challenges that have tested it over the past 12 months, networks providing infrastructure have shown themselves to be resilient, and service providers have demonstrated that they can adapt to the needs of the community through difficult times.
Infrastructure Australia’s plan sets out a road map that stretches out to 2036 and the infrastructure body puts the different elements of the vision through what it calls a ‘quadruple bottom line’ assessment.
This involves assessing the social, governance, economic and environmental impact of the various ideas embedded in the plan and associated documents.
“Underpinning this agenda is a focus on population growth, adaptation to climate risk, building resilience, stimulating employment, driving economic productivity, embracing a diversity of places and social equity,” the plan states.
“Overall, it is based on a rigorous evaluation of benefit, cost and risk. In addition, we have assessed each reform’s potential impact on access, quality and cost of infrastructure services for individual and business consumers.”