The Australian Government has delivered on its election commitment to restore Infrastructure Australia (IA) as the Commonwealth’s adviser on major infrastructure investment, with the Infrastructure Australia Amendment (Independent Review) Bill 2023 now having passed both Houses of Parliament.
IA is an independent statutory body that was created under the previous Labor Government to provide expert research and advice to the Australian Government on projects and reforms relating to infrastructure priorities across Australia.
Under the Liberals and Nationals, the organisation lost direction, was full of political appointments and its advice on infrastructure matters was often not considered.
The legislative changes define IA’s mandate, improve the evaluation of infrastructure proposals, and refine the products IA delivers to better support government investment objectives – including ensuring a more targeted Infrastructure Priority List (IPL).
A more focused and targeted IPL will mean that proposals considered for inclusion will need to be aligned to the Government’s policy objectives, and within IA’s remit of transport, water, energy and communications infrastructure.
IA’s functions have been redefined and a stronger governance structure has been set up, comprising three expert commissioners to be supported by an expert advisory council.
The legislation delivers on a critical part of the Government’s response to the recommendations handed down by the Independent Review of Infrastructure Australia, which was undertaken in 2022.
Other recommendations from the Independent Review of Infrastructure Australia will be implemented through a revised Statement of Expectations, which will be issued by the Government in early 2024 to IA.
Despite months of the Liberals and Nationals refusing to engage constructively and obstructing the passing of this critical legislation, the Government has worked to ensure the successful passage of the Bill this week.
We will also move quickly to appoint commissioners through a merit-based and publicly advertised process, which will be undertaken as soon as possible.
By underpinning sound infrastructure investment decisions, a revitalised, respected and trusted IA will support the Government in achieving productivity, economic growth and sustainability outcomes.
It will also continue to identify opportunities to streamline work with the states and territories, allowing resources to be better invested in infrastructure priorities moving forward.
This legislation is part of a broader suite of reforms the Government is implementing to ensure the Commonwealth invests in properly planned and targeted infrastructure, including the recent release of the Infrastructure Policy Statement and our response to the Independent Strategic Review of the Infrastructure Investment Program.
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