Infrastructure agenda gets a boost

The Government’s efforts to address infrastructure bottlenecks such as those at ports and on congested urban roads has taken another step forward with today’s inaugural meeting of the COAG Infrastructure Working Group.

Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese chaired the high-level working group of state, territory and Commonwealth officials just days after Federal Cabinet approved the establishment of Infrastructure Australia, a new body to better coordinate infrastructure planning and investment across the nation.

Mr Albanese said the working group have agreed on a timetable for reforming the way infrastructure is planned, financed and delivered – one that will be taken forward by the soon-to-be established Infrastructure Australia.

"There is tremendous goodwill from the states and territories as well as the Commonwealth to end the blame game and advance the infrastructure agenda," said Mr Albanese.

"Today’s meeting was extremely constructive."

There will be one further meeting of the working group prior to the next Council of Australian Governments.

"Infrastructure Australia’s immediate task will be to undertake a National Infrastructure Audit to determine the capacity and condition of nationally significant infrastructure, including the areas of water, energy, transport and communications," said Mr Albanese.

"After taking into account expected future demand, the Audit will also identify gaps, deficiencies, impediments and bottlenecks across these important sectors of the national economy."

The Working Group has agreed that the Commonwealth Government as well as all state and territory governments will provide the information necessary for the Audit to Infrastructure Australia by 30 June 2008

"Once the Audit is completed, Infrastructure Australia will consult widely, including with the owners and operators of existing infrastructure assets, in preparing an Infrastructure Priority List to guide investment," said Mr Albanese.

Infrastructure Australia’s first Infrastructure Priority List will be completed within 12 months and presented to the Council of Australian Governments.

Infrastructure Australia’s other functions will include:

    * The standardisation of tender processes and contract documentation between Commonwealth and state jurisdictions for the use of PPPs and other relevant procurement options;

    * Standardising project approval techniques; and

    * Streamlining planning and approval process by harmonising guidelines, legislation and regulation across jurisdictions.

"The task ahead for COAG Infrastructure Working Group and Infrastructure Australia is considerable," said Mr Albanese. But I am confident that with the right reforms and long term planning we can lock in economic growth and fight inflation."

Legislation establishing Infrastructure Australia will be introduced during the first session of the new Parliament.

As the national government industry partnership for Transport and Logistics, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed the recent announcements by the Hon Anthony Albanese MP on the establishment of Infrastructure Australia.

Since the 2006 launch of the ALC Infrastructure Action Agenda Report which was developed with industry on identifying the top priorities for T&L freight infrastructure; the ALC has been advocating and promoting the top four priorities of the industry which are:

1.      Preparing the rail system for future challenges

2.      Investing in access to ports, airports, and intermodal terminals and the supply chain

3.      Developing clearly articulated freight transport plans

4.      Ensuring consistency in regulation

Infrastructure Australia has identified its first task to audit the nation’s infrastructure shortfalls and produce an Infrastructure Priority List to guide the billions of dollars of public and private investment. The ALC can dramatically assist in this area by providing details of known infrastructure priorities and its report on Supply Chain Blockages and its associated recommendations.

The ALC will continue working with industry, government and the newly established Infrastructure Australia Committee in prioritising investment and resources in critical infrastructure projects.


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