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Infrastructure Australia updates Assessment Framework

Infrastructure Australia has published new guidelines for the development and assessment of major infrastructure proposals. Infrastructure Australia says the 2021 Assessment Framework is a contemporary approach to guide infrastructure decision-making in Australia.

“It provides clear and concise instructions on how to develop strong business cases and aims to streamline approval processes,” the organisation says of the framework. “Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework sets out the criteria for assessing proposals for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List (Priority List), the national pipeline of investment priorities. The 2021 edition of the Assessment Framework was developed over an 18-month period in close consultation with key stakeholders, including a reference group made up of experts from federal, state and territory governments.

“The 2021 edition includes broadened Assessment Criteria to allow for more holistic review of a proposal’s potential benefits, in addition to those that can be monetised through traditional cost–benefit analysis. This enables Infrastructure Australia to better take account of benefits such as sustainability, resilience and quality of life, which are covered in expanded guidance in this edition.”

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew says the enhanced Assessment Framework responds to community expectations, while still setting clear and transparent expectations on how major infrastructure proposals will be assessed.

“One of the clear messages we have heard from stakeholders around the country,” Madew says, “is that they wanted the Assessment Framework to provide more support for the consideration of broader community benefits that can be delivered through major infrastructure investment.”

Key updates to the Assessment Framework include:

  • New guidance on how to demonstrate strategic merit, quality-of-life impacts, meaningful stakeholder engagement activities, sustainability and resilience
  • A simpler, four-stage process that aligns with state and territory frameworks
  • A pragmatic approach for defining a base case
  • Recommending but not requiring at least two options and a base case in a business case
  • An updated CBA methodology
  • Four new technical guidelines to provide greater detail on: risk and uncertainty analysis; program appraisal; multi-criteria analysis and economic appraisal.

Acknowledging submissions may already be in development, Infrastructure Australia has staggered the timing around when proponents are required to follow the new guidelines.

Submissions for the 2022 Priority List are now also open. The submissions period will be open from July 16 until September 3, 2021.

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