Environment and Sustainability, Major Projects & Infrastructure

Australia’s infrastructure spending set to bring benefits

Inland Rail

Spending on infrastructure has once-in-a-generation potential to achieve “a transformative impact”.

THE $15.2 billion infrastructure investment announced in the 2021 federal budget can be leveraged to deliver an even greater long-term upside, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia says.

“We welcome the federal government’s continued commitment to an infrastructure-led recovery, which now represents more than $100 billion over 10 years,” said Ainsley Simpson, ISCA chief executive.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve a transformative impact. By leveraging planning, policy and procurement, the federal government can send strong clear market signals about our national priorities.

“Assessing infrastructure assets against social, cultural, environmental and economic performance metrics drives continuous improvement, capacity building and innovation. It can support productivity and livability in both urban and regional areas.

“Aligning this infrastructure investment with global best practice can deliver up to $2.40 in benefit for every dollar spent,” Simpson said.

The federal government’s commitment to vocational training, STEM scholarships and childcare subsidies, was also welcomed.

“These measures, together, will create more equitable and inclusive workplaces, and also represents an opportunity to upskill Australia’s workforce to deliver the ambitious infrastructure pipeline ahead,” Simpson said.

ISCA welcomes the $600 million in funding for the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, established in response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. “This agency will also increase our focus on long-term disaster risk reduction and intergovernmental collaboration,” she said.

“Extreme weather events, systemic shocks like COVID-19, stresses from climate change and ageing infrastructure all highlight the need for us to prioritise communities when we are planning, delivering and operating infrastructure assets.

“We also know that investors want assets that deliver long term returns, which is why they are demanding greater scrutiny of social, environmental and governance outcomes.”

She said the infrastructure sector will meet next week to begin discussions into short-term opportunities that will improve collaboration across the sector, while also looking at how infrastructure assets are financed, designed, constructed, operated and used over the long term.

“Infrastructure is the great enabler and the foundation of a vibrant society. Together with our talented and highly motivated sector, we can enable a thriving, resilient, inclusive Australia through the design, delivery and operation of world-class sustainable infrastructure,” Simpson concluded.

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