Labor has been quick to act on its pre-election pledge to overhaul Infrastructure Australia (IA).
Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, has appointed Nicole Lockwood and Mike Mrdak to lead an independent review of the nation’s main infrastructure advisor.
King said that in recent years the organisation has been allowed to drift with partisan board appointments and a lack of clear direction.
“In Nicole Lockwood and Mike Mrdak, we have two of Australia’s pre-eminent infrastructure experts who will conduct a thorough and independent review of Infrastructure Australia and make recommendations to get it back on track,” said King.
“Our nation has big challenges ahead, whether that be in dealing with population growth, managing skills shortages, decarbonising the transport and infrastructure sector or dealing with the uptake of electric vehicles.
“This review and the changes it proposes will be essential in ensuring that the Australian Government receives the expert and non-partisan advice it needs to build a better future.”
A draft report is expected within three months, and a final report shortly thereafter.
The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) said the review should enhance the organisation’s ability to make the national road freight task safer and more efficient.
“We’re optimistic that this review will produce a more focused IA that works in tandem with the states and territories,” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.
“Infrastructure isn’t only about cutting ribbons on shiny new bridges, airports and rail lines.
“We saw that just over a year ago when IA released its new Priority List which we praised for its significant focus on road maintenance.
“It’s absolutely vital that this continues and that IA helps clear the national backlog of road maintenance and upgrades.”
Clark said there is a limited link between funding for road services and the actual use of roads, particularly given the deficiencies in the heavy vehicle charging model currently under scrutiny by the National Transport Commission.
“As we said a year ago, there are significant funding challenges for ongoing maintenance, particularly where the capital expenditure of new roads is funded but future maintenance is not.
“This disconnect must end with whole-of-lifecycle considerations brought to bear in funding models.”
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) CEO Dr Hermione Parsons said the review was an opportunity to streamline engagement between various levels of government to identify and agree on priority infrastructure.
“We must see investment in infrastructure continue and the development of projects that will deliver real efficiency gains and drive an uplift in productivity,” said Parsons.
“To do that all governments and industry must work together to align our priorities, consistent with achieving the objectives of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.”