On 17 February the Australasian Railway Association welcomed the release of Infrastructure Australia’s ‘Australian Infrastructure Plan and the Infrastructure Priority List’ setting out priorities and areas of reform for the benefit of the entire nation.
The Australasian Railway Association’s Chief Executive Officer, Danny Broad, describes the Plan as “offering rigorous reform that will set the nation on a path to a stronger, more resilient future. The Plan reflects a holistic approach to infrastructure planning and decision making, and will go a long way in providing innovative solutions to a number of significant infrastructure problems (such as congestion in the transport sector) which are holding Australia back,” said Mr Broad.
“The Plan makes a number of key recommendations that reinforce the very issues that the Australasian Railway Association has raised for some time, including longer term planning, reform in the funding of transport infrastructure, protection of rail corridors for future public transport and freight projects, and the nation’s ability to make informed decisions on infrastructure projects based on evidence.
"In order for Australia to truly progress, it is crucial that this independent, objective and thorough Plan be turned into reality. The Plan promotes economic growth and improved liveability of cities while highlighting the crucial role freight and passenger rail will play in our future.
"I call on State and Territory governments to develop business plans for key projects on the Priority List. It is essential that passenger rail projects such as the Cross River Rail and metro style services in Melbourne and Sydney, the electrification of the Gawler Line in Adelaide, the new and extended light rail services in Canberra, Parramatta and Adelaide, as well as the North Corridor in Perth, all receive Commonwealth and state funding. In addition, the Australasian Railway Association urges government to seriously examine the option of value capture and innovative funding mechanisms to provide part funding for these, and other infrastructure projects.
"The Plan presents a strong case for more freight on rail; a position echoed by the Australasian Railway Association. The efficient movement of freight in Australia is crucial for our domestic economy and our ability to compete internationally. Freight projects such as the Inland Rail, freight rail connections to ports and upgrades to regional rail are crucial. All tiers of government need to be a part of decisions in the freight area, along with key representatives from the private sector. The proposed National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy is an important element in this regard, one that will foster high levels of collaboration.
“Infrastructure Australia is showing great leadership –and independence– in recommending bold and fearless reforms. Australia must continue to have an ongoing public dialogue about the state of the nation’s infrastructure - the services it delivers, the cost to the nation and how Australia will pay for it.
“In saying all this, the Plan will only be as good as the commitments and leadership that follow. It is up to the Australian Government to provide strong leadership by setting policy objectives and providing appropriate funding and incentives to encourage other governments to take action. We stress the need for cohesion among the States and their respective infrastructure bodies. This strategic document must be turned into a well-led and carefully articulated action agenda,” said Mr Broad.