Prioritising Reform: Progress On the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan
In June 2018, Infrastructure Australia released the Prioritising Reform: Progress on the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan. Infrastructure Australia (IA) is an independent statutory body tasked with prioritisation and progress of nationally significant infrastructure.
IA produced the Australian Infrastructure Plan in 2016 to provide a positive reform and investment roadmap for Australia. The Plan set out 78 recommendations for reform to address infrastructure gap and support productivity.
This month IA released the Prioritising Reform: Progress on the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan report. The report assesses how far the key recommendations made in the Plan have progressed since its release in 2016 and where action is lagging. The Prioritising Reform outlines the progress in Australian infrastructure reform and where more progress is needed across four key areas – market reform (across roads, energy, water and telecommunications), funding reform, governance reform and future-proofing.
IA noted positive progress in heavy vehicle road charging, business case development, integration of land-use and transport planning and corridor protection. However, the report recommended the Australian government initiate an inquiry into the potential benefits and impacts of road market reform, with a view to transition to a user-pays approach.
The plan highlighted the inadequacy of the current approach to charging for road use and investing in road infrastructure noting that it was “unfair, unsustainable and inefficient”. Further, the report renewed calls for Australian governments to consider charging motorists based on how far they travel.
The plan outlined the need for Australia to develop a road market which reflects the true costs of providing, maintaining and using the network. The system is inefficient because road users do not receive signals to use the network in the most cost-effective way. The plan also noted that fuel excise revenue will continue to decline in real terms as fuel efficiency continues to rise and the uptake of alternatively fuelled vehicles gathers pace.
Infrastructure Australia (IA) will deliver the next Australian Infrastructure Audit in 2019 and the next Australian Infrastructure Plan in 2021.
IA will be seeking submissions in July for the next update of the Infrastructure Priority List, which will be published in February 2019.