A new Wave of Infrastructure Reform

Infrastructure Australia has published its landmark 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan, calling for a new wave of infrastructure reform to fully leverage the Australian Government’s historic $110 billion infrastructure spend and drive the national COVID-19 recovery.

This $110 billion, 10-year infrastructure pipeline forms part of the Economic Recovery Plan and will secure Australia’s economic recovery by delivering nation-building infrastructure projects, water security to inland Australia, meeting the national freight challenge and getting Australians home sooner and safer.

This includes an additional $15.2 billion in new commitments to infrastructure projects through the 2021-22 Budget, supporting an estimated 30,000 jobs across Australia.

As part of the plan to secure Australia’s recovery, the Government is focusing on new commitments in major infrastructure projects right across the country, including:

  • $2.0 billion for Great Western Highway Upgrade – Katoomba to Lithgow – Construction of East and West Sections in New South Wales;
  • $2.0 billion investment to deliver a new Melbourne Intermodal Terminal
  • $400.0 million for Bruce Highway Additional Funding in Queensland;
  • $237.5 million for METRONET: Hamilton Street / Wharf Street Grade Separations and Elevation of Associated Stations in Western Australia;
  • $161.6 million for the Truro Bypass in South Australia;
  • $150.0 million for National Network Highway Upgrades (Phase 2) in the Northern Territory;
  • $80.0 million for Bass Highway Safety and Freight Efficiency Upgrades in Tasmania; and
  • $26.5 million for William Hovell Drive Duplication in the Australian Capital Territory.

This is in addition to the Government’s significant existing investment in projects that will define the success of local communities for years to come, including the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport, due to open in 2026, Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport and the much-needed Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

More than 220 major Australian Government funded projects are currently under construction. These projects are expected to support around 100,000 jobs during their construction lives.

  • The Government will also commit up to $2.0 billion to deliver a new Intermodal Freight Terminal in Melbourne. This will support both the Victorian and national freight networks, creating up to 1,350 jobs during peak construction and a further 550 jobs during peak operation.
  • Additional capacity delivered by the intermodal terminal is required to meet the future freight needs of Victoria and Australia’s domestic and international supply chains, as well as realising the full benefits of Inland Rail.
  • This is part of the Government’s commitment to funding transformational infrastructure to increase the productivity, efficiency and capacity of the national freight network. This investment will also support the Australian Government’s National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan

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

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew said:

“The 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan is being delivered at a critical moment in our history. 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.”


“Infrastructure investment is at record levels across Australia, demonstrated by the Australian Government’s historic $110 billion infrastructure commitment. The 2021 Plan highlights the importance of leveraging this investment through targeted reform to deliver better infrastructure services for our communities.” 

Key opportunities include:

  • Supporting growth outside our largest 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 reform roadmap outlined in the 2021 Plan reflects an industry consensus that was developed in close collaboration with governments, industry and communities. As part of this, Infrastructure Australia completed a comprehensive engagement program that targeted more than 6,500 community members and industry stakeholders across Australia’s cities and regions. Ms Madew said:

“This collaboration has helped ensure our reform recommendations have broad support, are practical and actionable and provides the strong foundation needed to deliver lasting reform.” 

Implementing the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan

Infrastructure Australia’s role is to work collaboratively alongside governmentindustry, and the community to support the implementation of reforms needed in the infrastructure sector. In line with this, Infrastructure Australia worked to ensure the reform agenda outlined in the 2021 Plan was practical and actionable.

To support the adoption and implementation of reforms across government and industry, each reform identified in the 2021 Plan incorporates a recommendation, which is supported by interim outcomes and a series of enabling activities.

The 2021 Plan also identifies parties to sponsor, lead and support reform as well as the time-period for their adoption. Importantly, each recommendation prioritises community and user outcomes and balances them with implementation costs and risks for government. Ms Madew said:

“The challenge of progressing the reforms outlined in the 2021 Plan is a shared one – that is why we stand ready to partner with the Commonwealth, states and territories, local government and industry to support the implementation of reform.”


“While the Australian Government will respond to the 2021 Plan, many of the actions across water, transport, energy, waste and social infrastructure require action from state and territory or local government. Lasting reform will require increased collaboration.” 

About the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan

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 our Infrastructure Beyond COVID-19 report. The 2021 Plan includes:

1. Place-based outcomes for communities — unlocking the potential of every location. Each place’s identity informs its infrastructure needs and priorities, enabling investment that builds on a location’s competitive strengths or reduces place- based disadvantage.

2. Sustainability and resilience — balancing infrastructure outcomes in an uncertain future. Communities are able to resist, absorb, accommodate, recover, transform and thrive in response to the effects of shocks and stresses in a timely and efficient manner, enabling sustainable economic, social, environmental and governance outcomes.

3. Industry productivity and innovation — facilitating a step change in productivity. An infrastructure industry that is highly productive, efficient, effective, prepared and confident. An environment where industry can sustainably respond to government objectives and vision with capability, capacity and resources in line with Australia’s best interests.

4. Transport — delivering an integrated network. Transport services should seamlessly connect people and goods across a vast continent. From door-to-door urban journeys to paddock- to-plate and pit-to-port supply chains, transport should be reliable and simple to use.

5. Energy — enabling an affordable transition to a net zero future. Australia should export clean energy to the world from its high-tech, low-cost, low-emissions energy system. Empowered consumers and businesses can manage their own energy costs and participate in an efficient, reliable grid.

6. Water — prioritising safety and security. Resilient, safe, secure and quality water supplies are available for all Australians and create attractive, liveable and resilient communities.

7. Telecommunications and digital — ensuring equity in an era of accelerating digitalisation. A fully connected Australia that offers resilient, superfast, equitable and wide coverage to everyone.

8. Social infrastructure — supporting economic prosperity and quality of life. Quality, accessible, future-focused, multi-purpose and economically valued social infrastructure should support a strong, healthy and prosperous nation and ongoing quality of life for all Australians.

9. Waste — accelerating Australia’s transition to a circular economy. Shifting from a linear waste management model to a circular economy has transformed Australia from a world-leading waste generator to building new industries as a recycling and remanufacturing powerhouse.

Place-based outcomes for communities

  • Retaining and enhancing quality of life for people in Fast-growing Cities is a complex and multifaceted task, with every level of government playing an essential role.
  • Cities make an essential contribution to Australia’s wealth and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with the financial, services and knowledge sectors benefiting from agglomeration and access to international markets.
  • The global status, growing size and diversity of Australia’s cities necessitates multi-dimensional governance and planning that integrates place, movement, networks and network interdependency and resilience.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the longstanding growth trajectory of Australia’s largest cities by pausing historical growth rates and shifting activity from the urban core to the suburbs and surrounding regions.
  • The pandemic provides an opportunity to rethink the role of cities by reshaping planning for the future.


Car use is high by global standards in Australia’s largest cities. Source: Adapted from Transport for NSW 2018
  • Strong and vibrant Smaller Cities and Regional Centres will enable national economic growth by relieving the pressure of population growth on Fast-growing Cities and developing key industries.
  • Smaller Cities and Regional Centres must be highly accessible to communities within the catchment of the services they host and better connected to Fast-growing Cities.
  • Improved infrastructure services and their associated amenity are critical for accelerating regionalisation and driving sustainable development of Smaller Cities and Regional Centres.

• Place-based coordination and governance of major infrastructure planning and delivery will unlock the multiplier benefits of infrastructure investment for these communities.

• Future infrastructure planning and delivery should be supported by an updated evidence base for population flows, particularly those driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some Smaller Cities and Regional Centres are experiencing faster than usual growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021


More people staying in regional areas, as well as increased departures from capital cities, led to a 200% increase in net migration during COVID-19. Source: L.E.K. Consulting commissioned by Infrastructure Australia 2020
  • Meeting the infrastructure needs of smaller communities is often difficult, and some Small Towns, Rural Communities and Remote Areas face significant infrastructure deficits.
  • Infrastructure is more expensive to provide on a per-person basis in low population areas but these communities are more reliant on available infrastructure for productivity and wellbeing.
  • Improving infrastructure access can help these communities to better meet economic challenges, build resilience and improve quality of life, especially in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Infrastructure investments for rural and remote communities should plan for, and respond to, population change and be underpinned by a shared vision for their long-term future.

• Community Service Obligations (CSOs) play an important role in ensuring regional towns and remote communities receive infrastructure investment and can access the related services at reasonable prices. However, CSOs must be better designed, targeted, integrated and more transparent.

• There are opportunities to share resources, skills and facilities between communities,
and between smaller communities and larger metropolitan centres. This will reduce costs, improve access and lead to better-coordinated infrastructure delivery.

Despite being worth billions of dollars, CSOs are not always. Source: Centre for International Economics 2018
  • Targeted reform and investment to developNorthern Australia can boost national economic growth, industry productivity and energy security and reinforce national security.
  • Infrastructure investment in Northern Australia presents specific challenges, including extreme climate, diverse environments and economies and low population density.
  • There needs to be better data to inform decision-making, including on population, the environment, natural resources and infrastructure requirements.
  • Economic growth will require access to a highly skilled labour force and engagement of local workers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’ participation is essential for northern economic development. Infrastructure investment is needed in these communities
    to improve their economic participation and wellbeing.
  • Infrastructure needs to be designed, delivered and scaled to meet the requirements of diverse settlements that range from small cities to remote communities.
  • Enhancing connectivity and livability is necessary so Northern Australia can attract and retain skilled workers and their families and provide adequate services to remote communities.
The geographic position of Northern Australia is key to its potential contribution. Note: These boundaries are as per the definition of Northern Australia in the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016 (Cth).

Sustainability and resilience

  • The events of 2019 and 2020 highlighted that Australia is vulnerable to natural and non-natural hazards such as bushfires, floods, drought, extreme heat, cyber threats and pandemics.
  • In a time of rapid change, uncertainty and risk, there must be new practices to ensure infrastructure plays its role in protecting lives, enabling business continuity and preserving biodiversity while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and delivering service access, affordability and quality of life to all Australians.
  • A nationally consistent, systemic approach to resilience planning would consider the interrelationship between shocks, stresses and future trends while identifying infrastructure interconnections and vulnerabilities.
  • To be successful, planning needs to quantify the costs of disasters and benefits of resilience investment.
  • Government and private sector organisations are advancing efforts to embed resilience across a range of hazards.
  • Integrating sustainability and resilience into planning and decision-making will allow Australia to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

• Infrastructure assets and services are emissions-intensive, so it is critical their development supports governments in meeting emissions reduction commitments.

• If long-term emissions targets inform current projects, the assets will be in
the best interests of users, investors and taxpayers, remain viable in the future, and
will not displace more sustainable and efficient infrastructure investment.

• Private and public investment can be mobilised to create zero-carbon assets, with government leadership setting the trajectory through targets, policy, regulation and reporting.

• Decision-making should be inclusive and transparent and enable long-term planning for future infrastructure assets, including weighting intergenerational benefits and trade-offs.

• If decision makers collaborate inclusively with stakeholders, incorporate the quadruple bottom line, make evidence-based decisions, increase process and data transparency
and reserve corridors for future assets, they will deliver value for money investments while building trust and strong relationships with communities.

Previous shocks have had significant economic consequences.Source: Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements 2020.
  • A nationally consistent, all-hazards, systemic • approach to understanding and quantifying risk will ensure Australia’s assets, networks, systems, communities and places are resilient.
  • Risk and resilience assessments should • consider the multi-dimensional nature
    of challenges, including a comprehensive approach to hazards, threats and future trends.
  • Identifying and communicating • interconnections and interdependencies before, during and after shocks or stresses is critical to managing systemic vulnerability.
  • Effective decision-making needs diverse and inclusive collaboration and data that supports credible hazard, disaster and climate scenario forecasting.
  • Quantifying the potential impact of disasters and the benefits of strengthening associated systems will build the economic case for investing in resilience.
  • Methodologies must be embedded in early infrastructure planning, decision-making, maintenance and operations.

• Frameworks and feedback mechanisms are required to gauge compliance and the success of sustainability and resilience

The economic cost of disasters will more than double by 2050. Source: Australian Business Roundtable 2017
Access to comparative national data helps to build a compelling local business case. TTIPS: The Total Technical Insurance Premium is the annual average loss per address (or group of addresses) for all hazard impacts in a Local Government Area. VAR%: Percentage of Value at Risk is the technical insurance premium expressed as a percentage of a single asset’s replacement cost, specified for a 1-year period with no discounting of the technical insurance premium or the asset replacement cost. HRP#: Number of High Risk Properties. An asset is classed as becoming High Risk if its VAR% for a given year exceeds 1%. HRP%: Percentage of High Risk Properties. Source: XDI 2019
  • Infrastructure is sustainable when it is planned, • designed, procured, constructed and operated to optimise economic, environmental, social and governance outcomes over the life of the asset.
  • By integrating sustainability into planning and decision-making, Australia will meet present needs without compromising the future.
  • Infrastructure assets, networks, services and communities will be critical in meeting government and industry commitments to sustainability, including reducing emissions.
  • Australian governments have a common aspiration to net zero emissions but there are varied commitments and targets.
  • As infrastructure can operate for 40–100 years, investments made today must consider a net zero future, including investing in technology that enables it.
  • Governments must leverage a comprehensive understanding of each sector’s emissions profile to coordinate action, identify opportunities and plot short- and long-term emissions reduction pathways.
  • Certainty, confidence and adequacy of policy settings helps investors to manage risk. Prioritising long-term sustainability outcomes can attract investment in new and emerging low-emissions technology and industries, assist post-pandemic recovery and create jobs.

• Policy reforms need to acknowledge they do not occur independently of the infrastructure that is in place and investment in the future, so they increase value for money outcomes and contribute to emissions reduction while maintaining a strong economy and high quality of life and affordability for all Australians.

Quadruple-bottom-line sustainability principles leads to better outcomes. Source: Infrastructure Australia 2021.
Sectors’ emissions contributions vary so they need tailored reduction strategies.                                                              Mt CO2-e: Million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent
2005: Actual emissions for year to June 2005, as of September 2020 inventory (released 2021)                                  2020: Actual emissions for year to September 2020, as of September 2020 inventory (released 2021)                          2030: Projected emissions for 2030, as of December 2020 projections (released 2020)
Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Source: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources 2020, 2021
  • In an environment of rapid change, uncertainty and risk, it is critical to embed new practices to ensure infrastructure delivers affordable, quality, accessible and cost-effective services.
  • Inclusive decision-making harnesses government, academic, industry, business and community knowledge about places and the infrastructure and services people need to support quality of life and productivity.
  • Collective knowledge supports value-for- money investments in infrastructure that build community trust.

• Digital technology provides an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of community needs and aspirations and a strong evidence base for decision-making, project design and delivery.

• Increasing transparency around how infrastructure decisions are made will inform communities, build trust and allow feedback at a time, and in a way, that can be most useful.

• Long-term, coordinated planning processes that connect sectors, governments, businesses and communities will ensure infrastructure delivers against a clear vision that benefits all Australians.

Industry productivity and innovation

  • The future of Australia’s infrastructure hinges on being affordable, meeting current and future needs and maintaining access to high-functioning industry that creates, operates and maintains it.
  • Improvements to industry productivity are needed to deliver greater value for money and reduce the risk of cost escalation for governments as we deliver an ambitious investment pipeline.
  • More effective and efficient decision-making requires more meaningful and early industry engagement.
  • Best practice portfolio and pipeline management by governments will unlock
    new productivity dividends helping ensure project scheduling responds more effectively to local industry capacity.

• The sector is at the beginning of a journey to acknowledge and support better mental health and a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

• Rather than focus on just shovel-ready announcements, governments should first ensure every project is investment-worthy.

• Sufficient time and resources at the front end of projects, together with improvements to market engagement processes, will enhance project outcomes.

• A digital by default approach will create better, more cost-effective and productive infrastructure for all.

• All levels of government should be model clients and champions for industry health and productivity.

• To realise these benefits, the decisive first step begins with each level of government taking action and working together with industry.

  • Investment in Australia’s public infrastructure • is volatile and increasingly targeted towards megaprojects. Both these trends are challenging as they impact the affordability, deliverability and productivity of infrastructure.
  • Governments can reverse declining productivity by reducing investment volatility • to create an efficient, cost-effective, sustainable and attractive market.
  • By adopting portfolio planning and management best practices to create
    a more stable infrastructure sector, governments will ensure industry can better
    respond to government’s needs by providing the materials, skills and capacity to deliver
    tomorrow’s infrastructure.
  • Having a stable pipeline will allow the transformation of industry productivity through the adoption of production and manufacturing approaches to reduce cost volatility,
    lower overall prices and create a more sustainable industry.
  • The infrastructure industry is global. If Australia is to remain an attractive and competitive market for investment, there needs to be a desirable market environment built on certainty, partnership and transparency.
  • Through reform, it is possible Australia will have access to more domestic and international resources to create, operate and maintain infrastructure into the future.

• Commitments to effect cultural change should seek to deliver better mental health and wellbeing outcomes alongside greater workforce diversity and inclusion across the sector.


Taking a portfolio approach will improve infrastructure outcomes. Source: Adapted from Oltmann, J 2008
  • The earliest stage of each project is the optimal point to ensure the best solution is identified and the right infrastructure is built.
  • Thorough and robust due diligence processes are effective tools for minimising or removing risks. They should occur before major commercial contracts are awarded and arethe key to successful infrastructure delivery.
  • Australia’s governments have an important role to play in advocating for and driving best practice in due diligence through Front- End Engineering and Design (FEED) and a ‘go slow to go fast’ mentality.
  • Governments should collaboratively partner with industry to mitigate risks when defining and delivering infrastructure.

• Consistently using standard form contracts that support more collaborative behaviours and allocate risk to those able to manage it are immediate opportunities for reform.

• Governments should seek out and address other industry pinch points, such as payment certainty, access to insurance, contract complexity and market deliverability.

• Governments should see infrastructure design and delivery as both a long-term endeavour and one of continuous improvement. Areas of opportunity include embracing focused innovation, increasing transparency and improving long-term estimating.

A project that ‘goes slow to go fast’ is more likely to succeed.
Effective due diligence through FEED delivers better project outcomes. Source: Adapted from Office of Projects Victoria 2019
  • Digital and data tools and practices are key to unlocking substantial productivity gains and efficiencies across infrastructure planning, delivery and operations.
  • The infrastructure and construction sector has one of the slowest adoption rates of technology, innovation and digitally supported ways of working.
  • Innovation supported by new technologies and digital transformation requires collaborative leadership between government and industry.
  • Government, as regulators, owners, funders and benefactors of public infrastructure, can play a lead role in the transition away from ‘digital by exception’ towards ‘digital by default’.

• There should be an initial focus on policies, developing digital skills to complement core professional competencies, and driving common standards and approaches.

• Single-purpose creation and procurement of information and data must transition towards an environment where it is shared, reused, structured, open and valued.

• With these changes, future infrastructure will be better designed for end users, governments will unlock significant productivity gains, and infrastructure will cost less to design, deliver, operate and maintain.

Embracing digital and data opportunities will unlock productivity and drive value. Source: Adapted from Future of Construction 2018
Infrastructure datasets can unlock economic, social and environmental benefits.
  • All levels of governments play an ongoing role in improving infrastructure project investment decisions and deliverability, supporting sector productivity and ensuring value for money.
  • The infrastructure sector needs a clear and consistent long-term direction, focused on improvements to productivity, investment and project outcomes over the next 15 years.
  • This vision should be evidence-based, developed collaboratively by the Australian Government with jurisdictions and industry.
  • Before governments identify infrastructure projects as shovel-ready, proposals should first be developed and assessed as investment-worthy.

• It is critical to invest in capabilities so the Australian Government can understand, execute and oversee more mature commercial and financial arrangements with states, territories and the private sector.

• A more commercially and financially sustainable infrastructure industry is vital for Australia’s social and economic wellbeing.

• Government and industry can make stronger commitments to increasing sector productivity and competitiveness and develop a detailed plan to address current challenges.

• The Australian Government should continue efforts to become a more proactive investor by building capabilities and processes that help identify and initiate nationally significant projects, attract investment, upscale gateway reviews and assurances, and develop infrastructure delivery capabilities.

Sequential decision-making will ensure a project is investment-worthy.


  • Transport is undergoing generational transformation. An explosion of new technologies, and fundamental shifts in what users want from services, present Australia with the biggest transport opportunities and challenges since the twentieth century’s boom in motor vehicle use.
  • Transport shapes communities. Australia must build, operate and maintain transport infrastructure that shapes places where Australians want to live, work, play, visit and invest.
  • There must be consistent national movement and place standards applied under a transparent framework to achieve expected funding outcomes.
  • Transport activities should be aligned across short-, medium- and long-term horizons, between different levels of government, and across jurisdictional boundaries.
  • Working within an overarching vision, the staged delivery of public transport services, corridors and networks can establish a culture of sustainable transport use and ensure mobility services keep pace with demand.
  • Strengthening the connectivity of regional, rural and remote communities is critical
    to realising their full social and economic potential while maintaining the momentum of regionalisation after the pandemic.
  • Targeted improvements will leverage new data and technology to enable smoother supply chain access to key domestic markets and export gateways, reducing operator costs.
  • Improving the local accessibility of Smaller Cities and Regional Centres will support their economic diversification and sustainable population growth, adding weight to the case for progressive regional rail improvements that lead to faster and high-speed rail.
  • Regional passenger transport services can do a better job of connecting Small Towns, Rural Communities and Remote Areas to essential services in larger centres if they are reoriented from a point-to-point to an integrated hub-and-spoke network and coordinated with digital access.

• Different transport modes must work together to enable seamless end-to-end journeys for people and freight in all urban settings.

• With more people walking, cycling or using a micromobility device as part of their daily travel routine, prioritising and accelerating investment in active travel will pay health dividends for individuals and create less congested urban communities.

• Demand-responsive services that are fully integrated into the public transport ecosystem will significantly improve access for people with disability.

• Providing demand-responsive public transport and connected pathway networks in the
early days of new suburbs can break the link between greenfield development and car dependence and build critical mass for public transport.

• Bringing forward new mobility technologies means redesigning cities and towns to make electric vehicle recharging commonplace and road networks ready for shared, connected and autonomous fleets.

• A transport pricing and charging system that covers all modes is needed to ensure transport networks move people and freight safely and efficiently.

• An equitable pricing regime will visibly dedicate transport revenues to transport outcomes and protect disadvantaged users from an undue cost burden.

• An equitable regime will pass on to road users the direct costs of transport infrastructure and services and the external costs of travel choices, such as emissions, crashes and congestion.

• Public transport users will pay fares that reflect the travel experience provided by different service types and encourage a shift away from driving to other modes.

• Under Australian Government leadership, distance-based road use charging reforms for all vehicles should build on current heavy vehicle initiatives and other road pricing proposals by individual jurisdictions and be incrementally rolled out nationwide.

Transport sector overview
  • Transport infrastructure and operations must be managed under long-term plans.
  • A planning horizon of at least 40 years for very large transport investments covers more than two generations. This is the time it can take for major population flows to respond to significant changes in access.
  • Plans should:
    • −  align transport investment with an overarching vision for settlement and activity, with land use plans referencing national population forecasts and tested against growth scenarios
    • −  be based on a nationally consistent movement and place framework
    • −  address how the links in a multimodal network hierarchy will provide specified mobility and access outcomes
    • −  be explicitly linked to budgets (with at least a 10-year outlook) that integrate capital and operating costs with revenue forecasts to fund identified user outcomes.

• Delivering major mass transit in increments will ensure transport investment keeps pace with changing user needs. Delivery stages should include corridor preservation, section- by-section route development and the progressive introduction of public transport enhancements.

• Combining multiple maintenance projects into programs that industry can deliver quickly and efficiently will provide more certainty for transport asset maintenance and bring forward associated economic benefits.

• In urban areas, bundled maintenance and minor ‘missing link’ programs should focus on addressing first and last mile network gaps for people and freight. This will shift demand away from car use by improving active travel connections and public transport interchanges.

• To improve their place-based transport development capabilities, councils should work across local government area boundaries to connect active and public transport movement networks. These networks should be in place early in the life of land release areas to enable sustainable mode choice and be partly funded by developer contributions and value sharing.

Corridors will evolve through progressive investments in different transport modes
  • Smaller Cities, Regional Centres, Rural Communities and Remote Areas that are better physically and digitally connected (to each other, to Fast-growing Cities and to domestic and overseas markets) will realise their social and economic potential.
  • There needs to be more use of new evidence to underpin supply chain action plans for specific commodities implemented by industry, government and community partnerships.
  • Commodity action plans should include technological innovations, regulatory changes, infrastructure upgrades and place- based agreements for major port precincts.
  • Increasing the availability and use of freight rail is a high priority for governments, including optimising access to Inland Rail.
  • Ahead of the staged upgrade of existing regional rail services to Fast-growing Cities, Smaller Cities and Regional Centres must become more connected with, and accessible to, their local catchment areas through improvements to active travel and demand- responsive services.
  • Upgraded regional rail services will deliver benefits for the outer-urban areas of Fast-growing Cities as they travel through and connect these places on their way to regions.
  • Priorities for investment in faster, fast or high- speed rail should align with a shared vision for planning Australia’s population.
  • The design of faster, fast and high-speed rail networks in different jurisdictions should enable the interoperability of long-distance train services, adopting common standards for track and signalling.
  • Transport outcomes for people in Small Towns, Rural Communities and Remote Areas should meet time-based performance standards for how quickly they can access essential services in Smaller Cities, Regional Centres and Fast-growing Cities.
  • To meet these standards governments will need to manage regional, rural and remote road, rail and aviation services as an integrated and multimodal hub-and-spoke network.
  • The network should be configured to maximise the number of users who can access essential services and return home on the same day (or to a comparable standard).
Regionalisation can be accelerated with better connectivity. Comparative population growth in Fast-growing Cities versus Regional Centres within 300 km of a capital city, 2008–2018.
Strengthened regional rail connects existing and emerging centres across a metropolitan area.Smaller Cities and Regional Centres grow with strong connections to established and emerging centres in a Fast-growing City. Within 300 km, faster rail delivers 90-minute journeys.
Reoriented passenger transport services provide better end-to-end journeys for rural and remote communities
  • Transport services must take advantage of technological innovations to deliver door-to-door mobility for all users in all urban settings, so people can choose a mode other than driving.
  • Prioritising the completion of local active and public transport networks in and around new centres during their development leads to more sustainable transport patterns.
  • Using frequent bus services to connect centres on planned future rail corridors builds up patronage, supports staged investment and strengthens the long-term role of mass transit.
  • The total network of mass transit and first and last mile services must be inclusive and welcoming for diverse user groups that have not previously been at the centre of transport provision. There should be:
    • −  consistent reporting for transport accessibility outcomes to focus attention on the needs of people with disability and an ageing demographic
    • −  updates to accessible public transport standards and support programs that embrace demand-responsive services
    • −  requirements for operators to actively invite feedback from people with disability and act on it.

• Reduced traffic speeds, lower-cost infrastructure designs and road user
education will help to meet the growing demand for enjoyable, safe and easy walking, cycling and micromobility travel.

• Customer-oriented Mobility as a Service packages should combine demand-responsive services with traditional public transport and new micromobility products. This will involve physical changes to transport assets and new contracting models that integrate scheduled and flexible services.

• Australia’s national vehicle fleet is transforming, presenting opportunities to rethink the supporting infrastructure.

• Building charging stations, including two-way facilities, into residential developments and public destinations will be critical to normalising electric vehicle use.

• As vehicle connectivity and autonomy continue to grow, digital technology will need to be embedded in roads and traffic management systems. All new roads should be designed with this in mind.

Improving direct links between suburban centres serves more travel needs
Even without financial incentives, Australians want to adopt clean and green motoring.                                                Note: Incentives include electric and plug-in hybrid cars, and do not include state, provincial or other local financial programs, charger installation or old vehicle buy-back initiatives.                                                                              Source: Adapted from L.E.K. Consulting 2020
  • Reforms to how governments plan, manage and invest in transport networks will bring forward innovative solutions and lead to new infrastructure investment that better matches predicted mobility needs.
  • The primary aim of any transport pricing reform should be to support transport operations by balancing the efficient use of the transport network.
  • For transport infrastructure to efficiently move people and goods throughout its life, there must also be pricing reform so both passengers and freight users pay a reasonable price.
  • A reasonable price would capture all travel costs, starting with the direct costs of building and maintaining assets and operating services.
  • What people pay must also reflect the impact that individual transport choices have on others, such as emissions, congestion and crashes.
  • A successfully reformed transport network pricing regime will make these considerations clear to all users. Everyone will understand what they are buying, receive the expected level of service and see their payment going directly towards a known outcome.
  • National transport pricing reform should start with a commitment by governments to dedicate transport revenues to better mobility services.
  • Independent consumer interest bodies should be given the responsibility of monitoring financial protections for at-risk Australians.

• Experience with reforms that are already underway in some jurisdictions should inform nationwide rollout.

• Participating in the current Heavy Vehicle Road Reform project can develop agencies’ capability to administer broader road user charging and pricing.

• A national distance-based road use charge for heavy and light vehicles must ultimately replace the petroleum fuel excise that will disappear as Australia’s vehicle fleet electrifies.

• Charges should reflect the external impacts of road use in different settings, progressively extend across vehicle classes and be complemented by reductions in fixed vehicle ownership costs.

• In cities, supplementary parking and road use pricing should address time-of-day congestion.

• Reconfigured urban public transport services and fares will provide users with affordable access to a ‘30-minute city’ or a comparable standard.

• Fares should vary by mode and time of day to reflect the quality of travel experience and promote network efficiency.

• Rail owners and operators should grow revenues through value sharing (for example, from increased property values), developing airspace and advertising.

• Regional rail fares should increase as and when services improve, with the additional revenue going towards further infrastructure investments, including maintenance.

Incremental reforms, coordinated across jurisdictions, have more chance of success.Soon, even more funding for road infrastructure will have to come from sources other than the Fuel Excise Levy, which is decreasing. States and territories should work together to deliver pricing reforms incrementally under a nationally coordinated process. The Victorian, South Australian and New South Wales governments have already announced their intentions to make Australia’s first move towards a distance- based light vehicle road user charging system. This will initially be for electric and plug-in hybrid road vehicles.


  • Australia has a big opportunity to lead the global energy transformation.
  • The energy sector is fundamentally changing — from how, where and when
    energy is generated and how it is transported and stored, to who participates in the market and how users pay for it.
  • Getting energy transformation right is critical to Australia’s future. Energy, particularly
    electricity, is fundamental to the Australian way of life and underpins the economy.
  • Energy transformation is central to discussions and programs of work across
    all levels of government, the energy market bodies, energy regulators and industry bodies.
  • Infrastructure Australia has prioritised reforms that complement and build on existing
    work programs rather than duplicating or creating uncertainty.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to focus on customers, who are driving trends in the electricity sector. Infrastructure Australia has taken a user-centric approach to developing reforms.
  • To support the future competitiveness of Australian businesses and Australians’ quality of life, there must be an affordable, clean and customer-centric energy system.
  • Giving customers the knowledge and tools to unlock bill savings will drive affordability and equality. It will also ensure vulnerable customers are no worse off and receive tailored support to reduce their electricity bills.
  • The future electricity grid must be smart, affordable, and reliable. It must enable the Australian way of life and support customers who take up new technologies such as solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles.
  • With its abundant natural energy resources, Australia is well placed to enjoy the benefits of low-cost, low-emission energy sources.

• National leadership is needed to ensure Australia remains a supplier of choice for energy commodities by starting to pivot from the current reliance on fossil fuel exports to a wider range of energy sources, particularly those with low emissions profiles, such as green hydrogen.

Energy sector overview
The electricity system is changing from centralised to decentralised. Source: Adapted from Energy Efficiency Council 2020
  • Business and residential customers can use current technologies — such as smart meters, rooftop solar, batteries, electric vehicles, energy management systems and energy- efficient buildings, appliances and equipment — to reduce bills and drive transformation in the energy sector.
  • While uptake of these technologies is increasing, targeted communication and information can support more customers to invest and realise the benefits of increased energy efficiency and productivity more quickly.
  • Vulnerable communities will benefit from these investments through higher minimum standards for rental accommodation and investments in social housing, supporting a higher standard of living and lower bills.

• Closing the information gap for home owners, investors, buyers and renters so they better understand domestic energy performance will drive investments and improvements over time.

• Small to medium enterprises, manufacturers and high-energy-intensity businesses can realise new opportunities to upgrade plant and equipment and modernise processes and enhance business productivity.

• A more efficient energy system reduces costs for everyone. Learning from, and building on, the best programs available and harmonising incentives and information nationally will help Australia move from lagging to leading in energy efficiency.

Australia’s residential and manufacturing energy intensities have not improved in recent decades compared to peers.    Note: Energy intensity refers to the amount of energy used to generate a unit of economic output. Data available for 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Source: International Energy Agency (2020)
  • Energy, particularly electricity, underpins the Australian way of life. The grid is an essential infrastructure backbone that will only become more vital as more services, such as transport, start to rely on electricity.
  • The grid is transforming from a centralised one-way service to a decentralised two-way system.
  • Getting this transformation right is a major opportunity to shape a smarter, more affordable and more reliable energy system. However, it will take national coordination and consumer participation.
  • State and territory energy departments and the energy industry can help improve affordability by demonstrating the value of smart meters to customers.
  • The industry should incentivise smart meter installation, accompanied by customer education; user-friendly digital and mobile tools displaying electricity consumption; and a default time-of-use tariff with an opt-out option and exceptions for vulnerable customers.

• Enabling zero-emission vehicle uptake by customers at scale is complex, requiring
close cross-sector planning and coordination between the electricity and transport industries.

• Smart regulation will deliver the future grid sooner and more cheaply.

• Electricity transmission reforms should be accelerated so low-emission generation can be connected efficiently to the grid.

• The regulatory investment test for the electricity network should be streamlined to reduce project delivery timeframes without compromising the robustness of investment decisions.

A large proportion of customers are not taking advantage of smart meters, except in Victoria where there was a mandatory rollout.                                                                                                                                                                  Note: Figures are based on AEMO retail transfer statistical data (MSATS). Source: Australian Energy Market Commission 2020
  • The global shift from fossil fuels to low-cost, low-emission renewable energy is rapidly underway and a big opportunity for Australia.
  • Australia still relies on fossil fuels for domestic electricity production and exports. These jobs and assets could become stranded as the shift accelerates.
  • To make the energy transition work for Australia, renewable energy development needs to be accelerated.
  • This is a time for decisive national action that secures Australia’s future by harnessing its low-cost, low-emission energy potential.
  • The energy transition is a big opportunity for Australia. It has world-leading renewable resources, such as solar and wind, that can service both the economy and trading partners.
  • Australia can remain a global energy supplier of choice by pivoting from fossil fuels to low- emission supply chains.

• Australia’s energy export industries must be redefined through national planning and coordination that identifies and nurtures a diversified portfolio of low-emission energy industries across energy commodities, services and value-added products.

• The existing national energy policy and planning framework will need to be enhanced to increase investor confidence and ensure Australian homes and businesses benefit from affordable and reliable energy.

• Rural and remote communities should have access to low-emission standalone power systems, which will reduce their energy costs and improve power reliability.

• All Australians should share the benefits of the low-emission energy transition. Fully harnessing this renewable energy potential will enhance Australia’s economic sustainability and support global resilience.

Generation is increasingly shifting from fossil fuels to renewables.                                                                        Note: Battery storage is treated as generation in the National Electricity Rules. Capacity includes scheduled and semi-scheduled generation, but not non- scheduled or rooftop PV capacity. Data for 2019-20 does not include April, May or June 2020. Source: Australian Energy Regulator 2020

Source: Infrastructure Australia

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