Industry groups have reacted positively to the infrastructure plan recently released by Infrastructure Australia.
The plan, which involved consultation with more than 6,500 stakeholders, sets out a range of infrastructure goals that should be met in Australia by 2036.
Engineers Australia has said that it broadly supports the objectives of the 2021 Infrastructure Plan and that it is essential to Australia’s recovery from the various disasters, cyber attacks and the coronavirus pandemic that infrastructure solutions are safe, sustainable, resilient and efficient.
“Engineers Australia endorses the aims of the plan to provide a nationally consistent and systemic approach to maintaining, upgrading, and building infrastructure that has been well planned. Using collaborative and technologically advanced capability and expert advice to assess risks will ensure greater resilience and efficiency across all infrastructure sectors and assets,” Bronwyn Evans, the chief executive officer of Engineers Australia, says.
Ken Morrison, the chief executive officer of the Property Council of Australia, said his organisation supported the focus on growing regional cities as well as the focus on transitioning the economy to net zero emissions.
“Cities are humanity’s greatest invention and cities are right at the front of this infrastructure plan. Despite the disruptions of the pandemic, Australia will remain a highly urbanised nation and the infrastructure needs of our cities – big and small – need to be top of mind for governments,” Morrison says.
“The recipe is to use infrastructure as the backbone to creating high amenity, high liveability places across our cities. You don’t create great cities by disconnecting infrastructure planning from urban outcomes and this report recognises this.”
The Australian Railway Association chief executive officer Caroline Wilkie says they were pleased the infrastructure road map acknowledged faster rail would help with connecting the regions with other parts of the country.
“The Plan recognises the need to invest in faster rail connections to create 90-minute journeys between capital cities and smaller cities or regional centres to support our sustainable population growth,” Wilkie says.
“We are pleased to see the Plan highlight the importance of considering the long term benefits faster rail projects will deliver to the economy and the communities they serve as part of investment decisions.”
The Community Housing Institute of Australia has said it is pleased with the recognition in the infrastructure plan of the need to invest in affordable rental and social housing.
“Too often Australian governments have viewed social and affordable rental housing investment solely as an impost and overlooked its positive impacts, not just for the individual who gets a home but for other service budgets.” Wendy Hayhurst, the Institute’s chief executive officer, says.
“Only last week, for example the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute published research showing that helping ex-prisoners through social housing typically cuts re-offending and saves the taxpayer thousands of dollars.”
Hayhurst says that the percentage of social housing as compared with the total number of dwellings has gone down to 4.2%. That, Hayhurst observes, is below the OECD country average of 7.1%.
“Australia needs to be adding at least 20,000 social and affordable rental homes every year. That is do-able but it needs the Federal Government as an active participant too; they’re the ones with the fiscal fire power.”