Local councils seen as catalyst for infrastructure reform

A “place-based” approach to infrastructure investment will bring jobs growth to regional centres and better address local community needs, a new report says.

Infrastructure Australia’s latest 15-year infrastructure plan says better transport links and rural manufacturing hubs will also help bring regional GDP growth in line with Australia’s fastest-growing cities.

The 2021 plan includes waste and social Infrastructure for the first time, alongside energy, transport, telecommunications, and water.

It also calls for a national distance-based road user charging regime to be developed within the next five years, to be operational within 10 years and to cover all vehicles within 15 years.

The national per-kilometre charge should be supplemented by congestion pricing to discourage travel during peak periods and to fund public transport alternatives.

All revenue raised under the new regime should be reserved for use on transport spending, the report says.

Other recommendations include:

  • improving resource recovery and building demand and markets for recycled products by integrating the circular economy in national waste policy and infrastructure projects; and
  • building community resilience to all hazards by considering systemic risks, interdependencies and vulnerabilities in infrastructure planning and decision-making.

Local governments are singled out in the report as “agents of change” in six of the nine reform agendas cited in the report.

By continuing to work closely with industry, governments and communities, Infrastructure Australia says it can help to deliver better infrastructure and improved quality of life for all Australians.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) was involved in the plan’s preparation through online workshops run by IA and through several one-on-one meetings with IA officers.