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Infrastructure Australia report finds investment is required

The report has found investment and reform is needed to ensure infrastructure continues to support quality of life and economic productivity.

Infrastructure Australia, is the country’s independent infrastructure advisor, advising governments, industry and the community on the investments and reforms needed to deliver better infrastructure.

The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit presents a forward-looking view of the infrastructure challenges and opportunities over the next 15 years and beyond, examining the infrastructure needs of the Australian community and industry – covering the major infrastructure sectors of energy, transport, telecommunications, water and, for the first time, social infrastructure and waste.

It is the second national report of its kind, after the first was published in 2015.

“Changing and growing demand, and a mounting maintenance backlog is putting unprecedented pressure on the infrastructure services each and every Australian relies on,” said Infrastructure Australia Chair Julieanne Alroe. 

“The current infrastructure program must do more than plug the immediate funding gap, but instead deliver long-term changes to the way we plan, fund and deliver infrastructure.

“Rather than a short-term boom, the historic level of activity we are seeing in the sector must, and is likely, to continue for the next 15 years and potentially beyond.

“This must be the new normal if we are to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Ms Alroe said despite progress being made since the last report, including the commencement of AU$123 billion of activity, with more than AU$200 planned for the future, more needed to be done to ease the pressures of growth and development.

“The 2019 Audit finds that infrastructure in our four largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – is failing to keep pace with rapid population growth, particularly on the urban fringe,” she said.

“With our population projected to grow by 24 per cent to reach 31.4 million by 2034, our largest cities are expected to see pressure on access to infrastructure.

“The dominance of infill development in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will require investment in high capacity public transport, enhancements to existing energy and water infrastructure, improved shared spaces and a renewal of inner-city health and education services.

“In contrast, the growing outer suburbs of the other major cities, including Perth, where greenfield development will dominate, is are expected to see pressure on their road networks, as well as expansion of utility networks, new shared and recreation spaces as well as cultural facilities.

“The costs of inaction are significant.

“If investment were to stop, the cost of road congestion is projected to grow by AU$18.9 billion to AU$38.7 billion in 2031.

“This impacts quality of life, as well as our economic productivity and competitiveness as a nation.”

Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) CEO Chris Melham said the findings of the report should be concerning for all Australians.

“The Australian economy needs an immediate and ongoing injection of ‘shovel ready’ productive infrastructure projects, followed by a 10–15 year pipeline, a position that the CCF has been pushing since 2016,” he said.

“While the Federal Government’s 10 year, AU$100 billion infrastructure investment program is welcome, it’s simply not enough.

“Successive Reserve Bank Governors have backed ‘debt funding’ to boost productivity growth through initiatives that encourage research and innovation, as well as investing in productivity-enhancing infrastructure.”

For more information visit the Infrastructure Australia website.

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