Independent infrastructure advisory body Infrastructure Australia has released new guidelines to drive greater transparency and accountability in infrastructure decision-making.
The Infrastructure Decision-making Principles aims to ensure major public transport infrastructure investments deliver the best outcomes for the public and also reduce instances of major projects receiving funding before appropriate planning and assessment.
“The Australian Infrastructure Plan acknowledged that Australia’s governments and the community would benefit from a set of clear principles to provide a benchmark for high-quality infrastructure decision making,” said Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Philip Davies.
“While the Infrastructure Priority List has helped create a credible pipeline of future infrastructure investments, too often we are still seeing instances of projects being committed to before a business case has been prepared, a full set of options have been considered, and rigorous analysis of a potential project’s benefits and costs has been undertaken.
“Ultimately, we want to ensure that community needs are properly understood, all options considered and communities consulted before projects are committed. This should include making better use of existing infrastructure by deploying new technologies or utilising the data we’re already collecting.
Mr. Davies said the Infrastructure Decision-making Principles should act as a guide for Australian governments, establishing clear lines of responsibility and accountability for infrastructure projects and providing the broader community with a clear set of expectations with which to hold decision makers to account.
“The scale of investment in major projects and the long life of most infrastructure assets warrants rigorous decision-making processes. Our hope is that Australia’s governments embrace these Infrastructure Decision-making Principles and give the community added confidence that decisions on public infrastructure projects are robust, transparent and accountable,” Mr Davies said.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) welcomed the document as a vital contribution to enhancing transparency and accountability in decision-making around major infrastructure projects.
“ALC has been a steadfast supporter of IA’s independent efforts to ensure that infrastructure development in Australia is subject to rigorous, evidence-based assessments, and that projects ultimately deliver the best economic and social outcomes for the community,” said ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff.
He said the Infrastructure Decision-making Principles offer all governments a way to meaningfully engage with the community about long-term infrastructure plans and make sure infrastructure investment is targeted towards those projects that address long-term challenges and deliver the greatest possible economic dividend.
“The principles released [24 July] build on IA’s significant body of work that will help to promote greater supply chain efficiency and safety,” Mr. Kilgariff said.
“This includes recommending the development of a comprehensive National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, and promoting the adoption of a nationally-consistent approach to corridor protection,” he said – adding that like other industries, the freight logistics industry needs to maintain its social licence to operate.
“Maintaining community confidence about the ability of major freight infrastructure projects to deliver the right outcomes forms an essential part of that,” he said.
“IA’s Infrastructure Decision-making Principles offer all governments a clear pathway for achieving that outcome – and they should be adopted by policy-makers across all jurisdictions.”