The engineering industry hopes the promise of infrastructure spending in next week’s federal budget is better planned than in the past.
Engineers score the nation's framework as only a "little better than adequate".
Treasurer Scott Morrison has promised infrastructure will form a key part of his first budget in the government's drive for growth and jobs.
New research by Engineers Australia found while there have been improvements, they have not been enough to raise the overall status of infrastructure since 2010.
In its 2016 National Infrastructure Investment Update, the organisation says it is no coincidence economic growth has been slowing because barely adequate infrastructure can impede growth.
Engineers Australia chief executive Stephen Durkin says a key question for decision makers is whether the present approach to infrastructure is going to meet the challenges and opportunities facing the nation.
The report "unequivocally believes that it will not".
"Improved standards of living and productivity require infrastructure that does more than just keep pace with economic and population pressures," Mr Durkin said.
He believes decisions about design and operation should be taken beyond the political cycle and be underpinned by sound workforce planning and taking into account emerging digital technologies.
"Sound infrastructure planning should also look at what we already have, rather than solely focusing on new projects and building 'new shiny toys'," he says.