Letter of transmittal: 2010 Infrastructure Australia report to the Council of Australian Governments “Getting the fundamentals right for Australia's infrastructure priorities”

30 June 2010

The Honourable Anthony Albanese MP
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development
and Local Government
Parliament House ACT 2600

Dear Minister,

Getting the fundamentals right for Australia's infrastructure priorities

On behalf of the Infrastructure Australia Council, I am delighted to present you with our latest report.

The report sets out much of the Council's work since our May 2009 report to you, National Infrastructure Priorities.

In particular, this report provides our updated advice on national infrastructure reforms and investments for Australia. The advice builds upon the national strategy reviews that were announced in our previous report and provides the latest analysis of Australia's infrastructure priorities in the context of those reviews.

The report focuses on a series of reform recommendations, which flow from our strategy reviews in the water and energy sectors, from the emerging National Ports and National Freight Strategies, and from work on urban governance and planning reforms.

These recommendations are aimed at getting the fundamentals right for Australian infrastructure, instilling a discipline of long-term infrastructure planning that can meet Australia's future productivity challenge, and making better use of our existing infrastructure networks. In light of the continued—and unprecedented—global demand for infrastructure, these recommendations are essential if Australia's infrastructure competitiveness is to be maintained. We expect to make further important reform recommendations in the near future, as additional elements of our strategy reviews are finalised.

It is the strong belief of the Infrastructure Australia Council that enacting these 'better use' reforms is as important as making new capital investments.

The report also updates the nation's Infrastructure Priorities. This year we have indicated whether projects are ready to proceed; ready to proceed subject to certain conditions; or in development but show genuine potential.

Addressing transport congestion presents the greatest opportunity to improve national productivity: public transport, notably rail, is vital to the future success of our cities; road and rail freight networks must be improved to meet the growing freight
task; and many of our commercial ports need more focus.

We are pleased to advise that many investment priorities do not require the support of public funds but rather the active engagement of private and superannuation funds and expertise.

Importantly, Infrastructure Australia's strategy work has identified additional areas of infrastructure need that have not been identified in proponent submissions. The need for a new corridor around Sydney capable of serving multiple types of infrastructure is a prime example.

Similar needs and opportunities exist in other cities. In most cases, we have limited ourselves to identifying a need that we believe warrants further consideration by governments, industry and communities. In some cases, where the evidence supports it, we have gone further and identified specific types of projects that warrant further attention.

We commend these proposals to you.

Finally, in order to aid transparency of the process, it is the Council's strong view that we should publish a report each year which sets out the work that we have overseen in the preceding twelve months and which sets out our latest advice to Australian Governments and the infrastructure sector. It is our intention to publish such a report in June each year. This document is the first of those regular reports.

The Council has a statutory role to provide advice on national infrastructure priorities. This advice is not by way of a tender process and one of the benefits of an independent Council made up of senior public servants and private sector representatives is the strategic nature of the priorities contained in the report.

The Council appreciates the opportunity to make a contribution to the development of Australia's infrastructure networks, both by highlighting key areas for policy reform and identifying priority projects suitable for investment or further development. We look forward to working with governments, industry and communities on this vital enterprise.