Chairman's newsletter—February 2017

Infrastructure Australia has published a newly revised Infrastructure Priority List identifying 100 major proposals that Australia needs over the next 15 years to boost our quality of life and grow our economy.

This is the largest-ever number of infrastructure proposals on the Priority List, accompanied by a record number of approved business cases.

The Infrastructure Priority List helps state and federal governments make informed, evidence-based decisions and determine which projects should be prioritised for funding.

Developed using data from the Australian Infrastructure Audit and extensive public consultation, it is a ‘living' document that is frequently updated as the Infrastructure Australia Board considers new business cases.

We last published a completely revised version of the Priority List in February 2016 alongside the landmark Australian Infrastructure Plan. Over the past 12 months, we have seen this document become the key reference point for the infrastructure investments Australia needs in the near, medium and long-term.

Our parliamentarians now regularly consult the Priority List as a source of independent analysis on Australia's most pressing infrastructure needs. Most importantly, this has translated into action.

It has been pleasing to see a number of projects that were able to be removed from the List because they have been funded and are now under construction. This includes major, city-shaping projects like Westconnex (NSW), Moorebank Intermodal Terminal (NSW), CityLink Tullamarine Widening Project (VIC), and the Forrestfield Airport Link (WA).

It shows the value of the Priority List in driving investment in projects that have substantial strategic merit and national importance.

New projects and initiatives

The updated Priority List includes seven High Priority and 11 Priority Projects. Each of these projects is underpinned by a robust business case that has been approved by Infrastructure Australia, meaning Australian governments and the community can have confidence that these projects are truly in the national interest.

The relocation of the University of Tasmania's STEM Facility to Hobart CBD (TAS) has been added to the List as Priority Project.

The first education project to be approved by the independent Infrastructure Australia Board, this proposal has the potential to boost Australia's STEM skills and research capability and support growth and renewal in the Hobart CBD.

We have also added The Northern Road Upgrade in NSW as a Priority Project. After the Infrastructure Australia Board's recent approval of the business cases for Western Sydney Airport and Stage 2 of the Bringelly Road Upgrade, the addition of this project is another important step in harnessing the expected population and employment growth in the Western Sydney Priority Growth Area.

Following rigorous assessment by Infrastructure Australia, upgrades to the Cooroy to Curra and Mackay Ring Road sections of the Bruce Highway in Queensland are also now listed as Priority Projects. The progressive upgrade of the Bruce Highway has long been recognised by Infrastructure Australia as a national priority, and we look forward to receiving business cases for the remaining sections of the Highway.

The revised Priority List also includes 82 Initiatives. New High Priority Initiatives include mass transit options for Parramatta to Sydney CBD (NSW) and the remaining sections of Ipswich Motorway Rocklea-Darra (QLD).

The redevelopment of Sydney's Central Station (NSW), Brisbane to Gold Coast Transport Corridor Upgrades (QLD) and the Wellington Dam water infrastructure development (WA) are also listed as Priority Initiatives.

Supporting business case development

Infrastructure Australia has assessed a record number of business cases over the past 12 months. We have evaluated 23 business cases since February 2016 and, in a welcome sign of the health of our assessment process, we have another 9 business cases currently under evaluation.  

We are very proud of the work we have done with project proponents to support high quality proposal development and decision making—from identifying an infrastructure problem and potential solutions to developing a business case and determining project funding, delivery and operation.

In the past year, we have seen significant improvements in integrated, long-term infrastructure planning and business case development, but there is still much work to do. For example, we need to see greater investment in strategic planning and feasibility studies and better definition of infrastructure problems to support rigorous, detailed options analysis.

Raising the standard of business cases developed for major projects takes time, but we are committed to working closely with governments, industry and the community to help deliver the best infrastructure outcomes for all Australians.

Through the Infrastructure Priority List, we have defined our national infrastructure priorities and laid the foundations for better infrastructure decision-making across Australia.

The revised Infrastructure Priority List is available at www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.

Mark Birrell, Chairman