Infrastructure Australia to advise on Covid-19 recovery

The Federal Government's infrastructure advisor is now better resourced to tackle Covid-19 initiatives.

Infrastructure Australia has received additional funding in the 2020–21 Federal Budget to provide reform and investment advice in support of the infrastructure-led Covid recovery.

This funding will ensure Infrastructure Australia is resourced to expand the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan to respond to Covid-19, lead new research on the capacity of the infrastructure sector to deliver the investment pipeline and conduct an 18-month comprehensive reset of the Infrastructure Australia Assessment Framework, the basis for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List.

“We are pleased to receive additional resources to advise Australia’s governments on the investments and reforms needed to accelerate recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Infrastructure Australia CEO, Romilly Madew.

“This year’s Budget has provided further investment in a sector already undertaking record levels of activity. This additional funding will support improved planning and decision-making to avoid constraints and overheating in the sector, reflective of the impacts of Covid-19.

“This expanded role for Infrastructure Australia as the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor speaks to the importance of infrastructure in the Covid-19 recovery and the Australian Government’s ongoing support for independent oversight,” she said.

In an extension of work first requested by the Prime Minister and other First Ministers at COAG in March, Infrastructure Australia has been tasked with delivering annual analytical assessments of infrastructure market capacity.

“As Australia looks to catalyse economic growth, understanding the impacts of Covid-19 on infrastructure needs to be a priority,” said Madew.

“Infrastructure Australia’s research will bring together Commonwealth, State and Territory and industry data to provide an annual snapshot of market capacity to support targeted investment and reform,” she said.

Madew said population growth in cities and other major shifts prior to the pandmic have impacted how infrastructure is used.

“Covid-19 has shown we need to think differently about how we plan for times of uncertainty,” she said. “Beyond capital projects, we need to focus on reform to shape Australia’s long-term recovery response.”

The next Australian Infrastructure Plan, according to Madew, presents the best possible reform response to Covid-19 through collaboration with government, industry and community to get the long-term settings right.

“Over the last 12 months Infrastructure Australia has been focused on improving the efficiency of our business case assessments,” said Madew.

“In an extension of that work, we are pleased to have the opportunity to conduct a major reset of the Assessment Framework, which is our methodology for assessing proposals for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List.

“Communities rightly expect decisions on public infrastructure projects to be robust, transparent and accountable.

“We want to ensure that our assessment process continues to champion this, while also supporting quality proposal development and enabling publicly-funded projects to come to market quickly. Harmonising and streamlining Infrastructure Australia’s Framework with State and Commonwealth guidelines will be a key focus of this project.”