Transport Minister Warren Truss has asked Infrastructure Australia to review major projects and list what should be given priority.
The independent agency will provide two infrastructure audits, including one specially for northern Australia, by the end of the year and a 15-year plan by April 2015.
Mr Truss made the requests in the first “statement of expectations” issued to IA covering November 1 to October 31, 2015.
The inaugural statement reflects new regulations put in place by the Abbott government in September.
The 15-year plan will include a “top-down priority list” of projects requiring Commonwealth funding.
IA will be required to review cost-benefit analyses of all infrastructure projects needing $100 million or more in federal funds, excluding defence proposals.
Mr Truss said IA was moving away from assessing infrastructure based on previous government announcements.
“This (new approach) will inform decisions, rather than simply catch up to decisions already made,” he said.
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief Brendan Lyon said the new laws would enable IA to be independent of executive government and “get on with the job”.
But Mr Lyon said the audit would be hard to do because they had never been attempted before.
“The 15-year plan has the opportunity to bring real science and transparency into the allocation of billions in national infrastructure investment every year,” he said.
Labor transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said he had concerns with the way the government was handling the process.
He said Mr Truss’s instruction to IA was absurd given he had handed the Victorian government an advance payment of $1.5 billion for Melbourne’s East West project, despite not having seen a cost-benefit analysis for the project.
“His instructions to Infrastructure Australia mean nothing as long as he is not prepared to follow proper process over his own investment decisions,” Mr Albanese said.