Infrastructure Australia has lent its voice to growing calls for concerted improvements to the country's infrastructure planning and development practices.
In the lead up to the Federal election the Commonwealth’s statutory infrastructure authority has called for the launch of a nationwide development strategy in order to prevent the vagaries of election cycles from stymieing future productivity growth.
Speaking to The Australian Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell said that greater foresight when it came to infrastructure planning would be essential to the success of the country’s economy over the long-term.
“We must…encourage a long-term outlook and a nationwide strategy, where everyone aims to invest in well-selected new projects,” said Birrell.
“Infrastructure has to be planned and developed with a long-term focus – avoiding the pitfalls of previous election campaigns where projects were often developed in isolation and the generational needs of infrastructure users gained little publicity.”
Members of the AEC sector have been ramping up calls for improvements to Australia’s infrastructure planning practices in the run up to the Federal Election, with recent estimates indicating that traffic congestion is costing the national economy as much as $16.5 billion per year.
Engineers Australia chief executive Stephen Durkin recently slammed the country’s current approach to infrastructure creation as being “unequivocally” inadequate for the country’s future challenges.
““Sound infrastructure planning should also look at what we already have, rather than solely focusing on new projects and building ‘new shiny toys,'” said Durkin in April, following the release of EA’s 2016 National Infrastructure Investment Update, which found that there have been too few improvements to raise the overall status of infrastructure since 2010.
The Australian Infrastructure Audit and Australia Infrastructure Plan recently found that that there is insufficient funding to meet both the current and future needs of the roadways network, and that there are also the significant gaps between payments made by users and the actual costs of providing public transit services.
They called for the implementation of National Governance Principles for raising the quality and transparency of decision-making in relation to infrastructure development, as well as the creation of a National Infrastructure Performance Measurement Framework to better identify which infrastructure projects and practices are proving successful.