Infrastructure Australia launches the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan

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Via Annabelle Powell | Infrastructure Magazine

Infrastructure Australia has released the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan, providing a 15-year roadmap for infrastructure reform to build a stronger and more secure Australia.

The 2021 Plan responds to the 180 infrastructure challenges and opportunities identified in Infrastructure Australia’s 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit, and sets out detailed recommendations to deliver better infrastructure for all Australians.

It also intends to support national recovery from the still-unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the bushfires, drought, floods and cyber-attacks that have tested resilience in recent years.

Despite these challenges, the 2021 Plan finds that Australia is well placed to take advantage of opportunities in the post-pandemic recovery phase. Compared to other OECD countries, the Australian economy has performed well and the nation’s infrastructure networks have proven to be relatively resilient.

The 2021 Plan details how Australia can build on these advantages and the lessons learned from the past year to build strength and security, and prioritises collaboration in the three strategic focus areas that cut across all infrastructure sectors:

  • Unlocking the potential of every place
  • Embedding sustainability and resilience into infrastructure decision-making
  • Driving a step change in industry productivity and innovation

Key themes of the 2021 Plan include adapting to change and uncertainty, harnessing transformative technology and digitisation, delivering public value, embracing a diverse geography, providing minimum service levels that support quality of life for all, and empowering customers and leveraging data.

Key opportunities include:

  • Supporting growth outside our largest cities, in regional centres and northern Australia
  • Investing in transformative technology to deliver affordable and sustainable infrastructure services
  • Promoting changes to the behaviour around infrastructure use, empowering Australians to make sustainable choices
  • Greater transparency and coordination of the project pipeline and reforms to improve industry productivity
  • More collaborative models of infrastructure delivery to support productivity and innovation

Key reforms in the 2021 Plan

Infrastructure Australia’s vision for 2036 is for Australia to have infrastructure that improves the quality of life of all Australians.

The 2021 Plan includes Waste and Social Infrastructure for the first time, alongside Energy, Transport, Telecommunications, and Water. It also focuses on three cross-cutting key themes: Place (Cities, Regions, Rural and Remote Areas, and Northern Australia), Sustainability and Resilience, and the Infrastructure Industry.

Through the reform agenda outlined in the 2021 Plan, Infrastructure Australia illustrates how this vision can be achieved. The key areas for reform are:

  1. Place – Unlocking the potential of every location

Each place’s identity informs its infrastructure needs and priorities, enabling investment that builds on a location’s competitive strengths or reduces place-based disadvantage.

  1. Sustainability and resilience – balancing infrastructure outcomes in an uncertain future

Communities are able to resist, absorb, accommodate, recover, transform and thrive in response to the effects of shocks and stresses in a timely and efficient manner, enabling sustainable economic, social, environmental and governance outcomes.

  1. Industry innovation and productivity – facilitating a step change in productivity

An infrastructure industry that is highly productive, efficient, effective, prepared and confident. An environment where industry can sustainably respond to government objectives and vision with capability, capacity and resources in line with Australia’s best interests.

  1. Transport – delivering an integrated network

Getting from A to B is as easy as turning on the kitchen tap. Transport just works, without travellers worrying about how it happens, and people and goods are connected seamlessly.

  1. Energy – enabling an affordable transition to a net zero future

Australia exports clean energy to the world from its high-tech, low-cost, low-emissions energy system. Empowered consumers and businesses manage their own energy costs and participate in an efficient, reliable grid.

  1. Water – prioritising safety and security

Resilient, secure and quality water supplies are available for all Australians and create attractive, liveable and resilient communities.

  1. Telecommunications and digital – ensuring equality in an era of accelerating digitisation

A fully connected Australia that offers resilient, superfast, equitable and wide coverage to everyone.

  1. Social infrastructure – supporting economic prosperity and quality of life

Quality, accessible, future-focused, multi-purpose and economically valued social infrastructure that supports a strong, healthy and prosperous nation and ongoing quality of life for all Australians.

  1. Waste – accelerating Australia’s transition to a circular economy

Shifting from a linear waste management model to a circular economy has transformed Australia from a world-leading waste generator to building new industries as a recycling and remanufacturing powerhouse.

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
  • Social equity

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, said, “The 2021 Plan outlines the reforms that will underscore future Australian economic growth. It is focused on identifying the actions required to deliver infrastructure for a stronger Australia and support our national recovery from the still-unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

“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.”

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