As we approach the halfway point of 2016, I am pleased to see there has been plenty of ongoing public discussion and debate on the future of Australia's infrastructure. Much of the discussion has centred around the data and recommendations from our Australian Infrastructure Plan and refreshed Infrastructure Priority List, which we released in February this year.
This week's Australian Financial Review National Infrastructure Summit has been an important platform for these discussions to take place. The summit draws together leaders from across governments, industry and the wider community to discuss what Australia needs from its infrastructure.
In my keynote address at the Summit, I made the case that our nation must take a strategic approach to the infrastructure that Australia needs, focusing on the long-term needs of the consumers and users of our networks and utilities, our transport systems and our international gateways.
If we are going to improve Australia's living standards and productivity, then infrastructure is vital. And the sustainable requirements of all Australians should be the driving force behind government decision-making on infrastructure planning and operation.
While we have undoubtedly seen an increased, and positive, focus on infrastructure over the past year, there is still much work to do.
Throughout 2016-17 Infrastructure Australia therefore looks forward to conducting a targeted program of research to further support decision-making, long-term planning, and reform in the sector.
We will also continue to add new projects to our Infrastructure Priority List as our Board receives and assesses new business cases. I am pleased to say that the Board has already assessed six business cases since the release of the refreshed Priority List in February. These are:
These business cases have now moved onto the Infrastructure Priority List as High Priority or Priority Projects, with more to come in the months ahead.
Infrastructure Australia is currently assessing over twelve business cases for initiatives identified in the Infrastructure Priority List. We are keeping in close contact with state and territory governments to advise and help with the development of even more.
I'm optimistic that continued national debate about our infrastructure future will see increased investment in new projects that transform our networks and gateways, and just as importantly will secure funding for integrated planning and the smarter operation of existing infrastructure.
Mark Birrell, Chairman