Infrastructure WA strategy
(L->R) Lance Glare, Phil Helberg, Sandra Brewer, Mark McGowan, John Langoulant, Nicole Lockwood. Image – Property Council
  • WA has launched its first (draft) infrastructure strategy with 88 recommendations
  • More about process, and how to guide decisions, than major new buildings
  • Major announcements include a new Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Kwinana port and desalination plant

Western Australia’s first (draft) state infrastructure strategy was launched today in an event attended by over 900 community and business leaders, as well as being streamed live.

There is now an 8-week consultation period with feedback on the draft strategy, with all comments due by 15 September 2021.

Unlike other states in the Commonwealth, WA has never had a long term infrastructure plan, and this was a key election promise of the re-elected McGowan government.

Called ‘Foundations for a Stronger Tomorrow‘, it includes 88 recommendations, the vast majority of which are not about building anything. It is more about guiding the planning of long-term infrastructure outlook and investment decisions through to 2042.

Infrastructure panel
(L->R): Sandra Brewer, with Phil Helberg, John Langoulant, Nicole Lockwood and Lance Glare . Image – supplied

Main items

However, amid all the strategy were some headline items including:

  • developing an Aboriginal Cultural Centre near the Swan River;
  • planning and preparing for a new container port in Kwinana – Westport;
  • building an additional desalination plant to increase the volume of desalinated water;
  • achieving WA’s target for net zero emissions by 2050;
  • increasing the capacity and quality of convention and exhibition facilities in Perth’s CBD;
  • progressing possible next stage plans for METRONET and long-term road projects;
  • investing in social and affordable housing to meet WA’s long-term needs;
  • increasing participation of Aboriginal businesses in government projects;
  • investing in infrastructure to support WA’s growing hydrogen industry; and
  • exploring opportunities to expand carbon farming.

In launching the draft strategy, Premier Mark McGowan stressed the importance of good infrastructure planning and delivery.

“With Western Australia continuing to manage and recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the Strategy provides the State Government with a vision and certainty for long-term infrastructure planning, co-ordination and delivery,” he said.

“This will inform government and allow it to plan for the required infrastructure needs for the State, ensuring taxpayers’ money is invested wisely to maximise the value and return of our long term infrastructure program.

“The Government will consider the final strategy and provide a response to each of the recommendations as required by the legislation.”

Infrastructure crowd
Packed event. Image – Property Council.

Industry reaction

Reaction from industry bodies has been generally welcoming.

“A clear growth plan is necessary to give the business community the confidence it needs to invest and Western Australians the assurance that we are heading in a strong, sustainable direction,” said Property Council WA Executive Director, Sandra Brewer.

“It is critical to the success of the WA economy that there is a long-term vision and commitment to delivering core infrastructure like housing, regional infrastructure and a modern transport system in a way that is sustainable and recognises the rich cultural heritage of the state.”

Sandra Brewer, PCA WA

“We are pleased to see clear pathways for the private sector’s contribution and partnership throughout the strategy.”

“Research prepared by the Property Council identified that for Perth to become a ‘great Australian city’, process improvements were needed to ensure infrastructure provisioning linked to population planning frameworks and the various agencies involved in delivery. This is WA’s chance to get our infrastructure planning right.”

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA WA) said that today’s launch was a positive step toward a more coordinated and strategic roll out of major infrastructure across the state.

“UDIA WA has long advocated for a long-term plan for infrastructure to guide urban development in Perth and the regions,” UDIA WA CEO Tanya Steinbeck said.

“We welcome the inclusion of social and affordable housing as critical infrastructure,” Ms Steinbeck said. “We need to ensure that there is adequate supply of housing across the housing continuum, from social housing through to home ownership.”

“Historically, infrastructure funding and prioritization has often been caught up in political cycles, without a coordinated and future-focused approach based on solid population growth forecasts and alignment with land use planning frameworks,” Ms Steinbeck said.

“A forward-looking strategy such as this one, will hopefully remove some of the politics and ensure more certainty around infrastructure delivery so that we can plan more effectively for future housing supply and understand our changing populations needs over time with confidence,”

Tanya Steinbeck, UDIA

Infrastructure WA Chair John Langoulant encouraged all West Australians to read the strategy and provide feedback as necessary.

“It looks fundamentally at infrastructure needs that will drive social, economic and environmental outcomes for our State and provides the foundation on which future plans and strategies can be developed,” he said.

“It is the product of extensive consultation from around the State – a Strategy developed with the people of Western Australia for the people Western Australia – and I would like to thank the community for their contribution and support throughout this journey.”

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The draft strategy can be found on the Infrastructure.wa.gov.au website.

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