The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) wants the winner of September’s Federal Election to help transform their big-ticket infrastructure ambitions into realities, saying that "visionary infrastructure needs diligent planning."

“The visionary proposals offered by both sides of politics in the [PIA 2013 Federal Election Platform] need to be underpinned by proper planning frameworks,” PIA chief executive officer Kirsty Kelly said. “Good governance structures and financing regimes need to be in place to ensure solid planning every step of the way if value for taxpayer funds is to be assured.”

The PIA call to action demands the Federal Government acknowledge the critical importance of cities and commit to a New Deal for Urban Australia to bring productivity, liveability and sustainability into alignment.

This includes building on the success of the Major Cities Unit to deliver better outcomes for cities across government portfolios and establishing an Urban Infrastructure Fund to unlock private sector investment to support the development of community infrastructure.

Planning leadership, the PIA says, is also integral to guide the implementation of smarter and more productive planning systems. The PIA suggests the promotion of collaboration across jurisdictions to develop best practices and recommends incentives for jurisdictions to adopt the Planning System Principles.

Policies and programs the PIA suggest need support to implement include the recommendations of Moving Australia 2030 to deliver better integration of land use and transport planning, and an increase in use of active travel modes.

Kirsty Kelly

Kirsty Kelly

Ultimately, investment in the capacity building and development of the planning profession to leverage more effective and efficient outcomes for investment in the built environment is critical.

As the September 7 election date draws near, Australians have heard of at least three major infrastructure plans: A $5 billion freight rail plan to better connect the Brisbane to Melbourne, the shifting of Sydney’s Garden Island Navy base to Brisbane, and a high speed rail (HSR) system linking the country’s east coast capitals.

Kelly said realising a project like HSR would mean an overhaul of the Federal Government’s infrastructure planning systems.

“The proposal could only be workable if the Federal Government took the lead in policies that better aligned planning strategy and infrastructure investment of the cities involved,” she said.

“We support the Infrastructure Australia approach to prioritizing infrastructure investment but we believe the fast rail proposal would be better delivered if it was better aligned with National Urban Policy.”

“The creation of an Urban Infrastructure Fund would also help to fast-track the delivery of projects that achieve the aims of the National Urban Policy by leveraging private sector participation in the development of community infrastructure.”