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Infrastructure plan focuses on resilience and sustainability

Infrastructure Australia has published the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan, calling for a new wave of infrastructure reform that contemplates sustainability and resilience to fully leverage the Australian government’s $110 billion infrastructure spend and drive the national COVID-19 recovery.

The 2021 Plan provides Australia’s infrastructure sector with a 15-year roadmap that Infrastructure Australia says will drive economic growth, maintain and enhance the standard of living and improve the resilience and sustainability of essential infrastructure.

“The 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan is being delivered at a critical moment in our history,” says Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew. “The pandemic, bushfires, drought, floods, and cyber-attacks have tested our collective resilience during recent years, while the most recent outbreaks have devastated our CBDs and put us at risk of a recession.

“The 2021 Plan outlines the reforms that will underscore future Australian economic growth. It is focused on identifying the actions required to deliver infrastructure for a stronger Australia and support our national recovery from the still-unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

“Building back better requires collective action from governments and industry, which combines both investment and reform. We have seen significant investment in the infrastructure sector since the start of the pandemic, but to drive the next phase of the national recovery, we need to pursue reforms that unlock the full benefits of stimulus spending.”

The Infrastructure Sustainability Council has praised the plan for what it sees as a shift in values.

“We are very pleased to see sustainability and resilience valued as strategic priorities and called out on page three of the plan, rather than buried one hundred pages deep,” says Infrastructure Sustainability Council CEO Ainsley Simpson.

“The plan clearly articulates that sustainability and resilience are among the biggest risks to our nation and are at the core of public value. This makes sustainability and resilience our biggest opportunities and a shared responsibility.

“Our data confirms that sustainable infrastructure delivers for communities, with projects rated under the IS Rating scheme reducing energy consumption by 68 per cent, for example. We also know that every $1 of investment in an IS-rated project returns up to $2.40 in benefits to Australians – benefits like better health outcomes or human capital development.

Key opportunities identified in the plan include:

  • Supporting growth outside larger cities, in regional centres and northern Australia
  • Investing in transformative technology to deliver affordable and sustainable infrastructure services
  • Promoting changes to the behaviour around infrastructure use, empowering Australians to make sustainable choices
  • Greater transparency and coordination of the project pipeline and reforms to improve industry productivity
  • More collaborative models of infrastructure delivery to support productivity and innovation.

The 2021 Plan provides Infrastructure Australia’s reform pathway to respond to the 180 infrastructure challenges and opportunities identified in the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit. It also responds to the additional infrastructure impacts of the pandemic, including the challenges and opportunities outlined in the Infrastructure Beyond COVID-19 report.

To read the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan, click here.

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