Chairman's newsletter—November 2015

Our inaugural year

Good afternoon,

Infrastructure Australia (IA) has had a highly productive year, and we have just tabled our first Annual Report to Parliament.

The report outlines IA's goals and operations in our inaugural year as an independent statutory body and can be accessed here.

Reading through the Annual Report highlights just how much has been done since the IA board was formed on 1 September 2014, with a strengthened mandate to publicly review major projects and the historic new opportunity to deliver a rolling 15 year Australian Infrastructure Plan (the Plan).

In March, we were pleased to announce the appointment of our first Chief Executive Officer, Mr Philip Davies.

Following Phil's commencement in April, we released the Northern Australia Audit report on 8 May. It assessed critical economic infrastructure gaps and requirements to meet projected growth in Northern Australia through to 2031. The factual base it provided was an important input to the Australian Government's subsequent Northern Australia White Paper.

On 22 May, we published the landmark Australian Infrastructure Audit report—the nation's first ever independent and comprehensive review of Australia's infrastructure and our future needs across transport, water, energy and telecommunications. The Audit takes a strategic view of what Australia will look like in 2031 and where the pressures on our infrastructure networks will be felt hardest.

It successfully focussed attention on the drivers of demand, like population and economic growth. The Audit is a timely and authoritative piece of research and analysis—and was well received by governments, at all levels, interest groups and a wide range of stakeholders.

Following the release of the Audit we commenced a nation-wide consultation program holding briefing events in every capital city. In total, over 500 stakeholders attended the briefings.

We also invited public comment on the Audits 81 findings, and received approximately 100 submissions. IA is deeply indebted to the many agencies and individuals who have made submissions, which are now being considered in the development of the Plan.

Reform will be at the centre of the Australian Infrastructure Plan. We hope it will provide a platform for governments and the private sector to lead the public policy debate around what Australians expects from our infrastructure, and how we will pay for it.

In addition to the Plan, we will also be updating the Infrastructure Priority List. A rigorous prioritisation process will result in a highly credible pipeline of nationally significant infrastructure projects and initiatives. We want to help ensure new infrastructure is constructed for the right reasons at the right time.

IA will also be stressing that equal effort should be placed on ensuring existing utilities, networks and capital assets are used more effectively. Resilience and sustainability are critical.

While our two Audits, the development of the Plan and the reinvigorated Infrastructure Priority List have been major deliverables for IA this year, we have also focussed on the important task of building stronger and collaborative working relationships with all governments and key departments.

Finally, IA has also been focused on building its internal capability and compliance systems to ensure that we are well placed to provide high quality, independent research and advice to all levels of government, as well as investors and owners of infrastructure.

With all areas of the infrastructure sector working together we can better inform strategic decision-making and progress the national projects and reforms that Australia needs.

For Infrastructure Australia, 2014–15 marked the beginning of what we hope will be a period of transformational change.

We look forward to the challenges ahead.

Mark Birrell, Chairman