Regional communities a major focus of Infrastructure Priority List 2021

Romilly Madew, CEO Infrastructure Australia.

With key themes such as export gateways, water security, digital connectivity, new sources of energy and digital health services, regional communities are set to benefit from the 2021 Infrastructure Priority List.

Infrastructure Australia’s 2021 Priority list, released on Friday, has a combined $59 billion project pipeline with a record 44 new proposals.

The updated list recognises the changing infrastructure needs of Australia as a result of COIVD-19.

All five of the ‘Priority Projects’ added to the list since August 2020 are road construction projects; the Parkes Bypass, the Prospect Highway Upgrade, the Armadale Road Bridge, the Bunbury Outer Ring Road and the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Upgrade.

Two of the four new High Priority Initiatives outlined by the organisation are focused on energy, including building on dispatchable energy storage for firming capacity and the expansion of Renewable Energy Zones to increase generation.

Improvement of digital health services and telecommunications transmission capacity for regional Australia formed the two remaining priorities.

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew said more than half of the investment opportunities on the 2021 Priority List benefit our regional communities.

“We continue to draw focus on equitable service delivery and investments that will deliver affordable and quality infrastructure services for all Australians regardless of where they live,” Madew said.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way Australians use critical infrastructure. We have seen changing work patterns, a pause on Net Overseas Migration, and a 200 per cent increase in people moving from capital areas to regional areas. These changes present a range of new challenges and the Priority List looks to identify infrastructure investments that will meet the diverse needs of our communities in this new environment.”

Since August 2020, 10 projects have moved off the list including four major road and transport infrastructure projects that are now underway; the M4 Motorway Upgrade (NSW), METRONET Morley-Ellenbrook Line (WA) and sections of the Bruce Highway and M1 Pacific Motorway (QLD).

Any projects on the list are advanced proposals and once construction begins they are removed from the list. Each project is assessed for inclusion by Infrastructure Australia’s detailed Assessment Framework and the list represents a view of investments needed in the near, medium and long-term.

“The importance of a robust, evidence based investment pipeline has only increased as we look to recover from the dual health and economic crises of COVID-19, and grapple with further shocks and stresses including floods and bushfires, long-lasting drought, and a changing climate,” Madew said.

“We are at a crossroads between addressing existing infrastructure gaps and prioritising investments that will secure our future prosperity, with abundant opportunities to deliver infrastructure that responds to community needs. The 2021 Priority List, with its evidence-based proposals and clear focus on community outcomes, is a critical place to start.”

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