- UDIA praises Infrastructure Policy Statement for aligning infrastructure planning with housing priorities.
- Government's policy prioritises productivity, liveability, and sustainability in infrastructure projects.
- NatRoad supports policy statement but cautions against increased taxation on road transport for funding.
The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) had high praise for the Federal Government’s new Infrastructure Policy Statement, which was released this Tuesday.
The organisation expressed that the housing industry’s ability to deliver supply was innately tied to the strategic planning, funding, and delivery of core infrastructure.
Furthermore, the UDIA stated that the Policy Statement addressed the key issues it had previously raised, making sure that nationally significant transport infrastructure was unified with housing priorities and properly planned cities, improving access and liveability.
“UDIA is pleased to see that Government has listened to industry on the need to integrate infrastructure spend with planned development of cities, suburbs and regions. Linking strategic planning, population and employment growth, the supply and availability of housing with land transport infrastructure investment is critical,” said UDIA national president, Col Dutton.
Guiding Australia’s infrastructure
According to the Albanese Government, the purpose of the Infrastructure Policy Statement was to ensure that the Commonwealth funded properly planned, targeted projects that provided considerable economic, social, and environmental benefits.
In other words, the Government will focus on only delivering nationally significant infrastructure.
Projects will now need to have at least two of the following qualities:
• Australian Government contribution of at least $250 million; and/or
• Alignment with Government priorities as articulated in the Infrastructure Policy Statement; and/or
• Situated on or connected to the National Land Transport Network and/or other key freight routes; and/or
• Supporting other emerging or broader national priorities – such as housing or critical minerals.
Productivity, liveability and sustainability
Accordingly, all infrastructure investment moving forward will now centre around three priorities. Namely, productivity, liveability and sustainability. For instance, infrastructure projects that improves the lives of Australians by cutting congestion, safeguarding the resilience of supply chains, reducing emissions, and encouraging sustainable modes of travel.
The way the Commonwealth funds projects will also be changed, returning to a preference of 50:50 funding with States and Territories for investments moving forward, with the risks and benefits of projects being shared equally.
In doing so, the Federal Government hopes to invest in projects States are committed to seeing through.
Nevertheless, the Government may still fund the greater share of a project in jurisdictions with less financial capacity on a case-by-case basis.
The symbiotic relationship between housing and infrastructure delivery
“Cities that are made for access should be our key goal to guide transport and infrastructure spending in line with urban planning, which puts people at the heart of city-shaping investments. It also means that we can improve productivity in delivering new housing if the city is planned from the beginning alongside infrastructure,” Dutton commented.
Current transport infrastructure projects often have lengthy lead times, making it hard to discern city building progress or any improvements to housing and amenities, as they have often been implemented without referencing a strategic plan for building communities.
“The Government’s proposed strategy puts in place a puzzle piece that is important for unlocking more housing supply that supports long-term sustainability of the construction industry and better cities, right at the time we need it the most,” Dutton added.
NatRoad Australia responds
The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) also supported the Infrastructure Policy Statement.
“The Minister has correctly identified that cost blowouts are a significant problem,” said NatRoad CEO, Warren Clark.
“With an estimated $33 billion in known cost blowouts that must be paid in higher taxes or result in less support for other vital priorities, such as road maintenance,” he said.
“We note the Government’s assurance it is not cutting funding from the pipeline but seeking to share accountability and get better bang for its buck.”
However, NatRoad cautioned against further taxing the road transport industry to raise more capital for infrastructure projects.