The provision of infrastructure can be a powerful catalyst for achieving social, environmental and economic outcomes. If the right projects are delivered at the right time, infrastructure plays a major role in improving economic competitiveness and productivity, supporting businesses, and creating jobs (both direct and indirect). There are well established links between infrastructure investment and economic gains. The International Monetary Fund estimates that each dollar of infrastructure investment could boost economic activity by as much as $1.80.
Effective planning and coordination of infrastructure is essential in an environment where there are competing demands for finite resources. It is government’s role to ensure that investment relates to desired policy outcomes, and provides maximum benefit for the community. With multiple entities within and outside of government responsible for the planning and delivery of infrastructure, it is a significant challenge to ensure that infrastructure is planned in a coordinated manner, and that the right infrastructure is delivered in the right place at the right time, and for the right price.
Today, Western Australia is home to more than 2.5 million people, with around 2 million of the State’s population residing in Greater Perth. By 2050, it is estimated that more than 3.5 million people will live in Greater Perth, with just over an additional 1 million living in the State’s regional areas.
Western Australia will continue to experience population growth and change into the future. While this growth will no doubt bring enormous opportunities, it will also increase demand on the State’s resources, social and physical infrastructure and services, and the natural environment. New initiatives, and alternative models, will be needed to meet these infrastructure needs across the State.
Issues in Western Australia in relation to infrastructure planning, decision-making and delivery are similar to those that have been experienced in other states. These include the absence of a long-term strategy or plan; the need for more robust advice to inform investment decisions; inconsistent sectoral strategies; inconsistent project evaluation, governance and monitoring systems; and limited interaction and engagement with the private and not-forprofit sectors.
There are opportunities to improve infrastructure planning across the short, medium and longer-terms, both from a single agency and a whole-of-government perspective. This will lead to better and more informed choices around infrastructure priorities, resulting in fewer costly project delays and cancellations and ensuring best value is delivered to the taxpayer.
Through its commitment to establish Infrastructure WA (IWA), the Government is seeking to improve long-term planning, decision-making and delivery of infrastructure. IWA will have a range of roles and functions, including the development of a long-term infrastructure strategy and the evaluation of proposals above a specified threshold. The proposed model places a stronger focus and greater effort on longer-term strategic planning as a means of informing sectoral infrastructure plans and selecting the right projects at the right time. With an evidence based and transparent strategy in place, over time greater focus can be placed on how proposals can be improved, packaged or delivered more efficiently.
The model proposed by Government seeks to:
• support a more bipartisan approach to infrastructure planning and prioritisation
• establish a strong foundation and evidence base to identify longer-term infrastructure needs across the State, and to inform subsequent shorter term plans and strategies
• embed more rigour and transparency in project planning, development and decision-making
• improve engagement with other levels of government, the community and industry on infrastructure planning and delivery
• improve the evaluation of proposals and the quality and consistency of business cases
• increase innovation in infrastructure planning, delivery and management
• increase awareness of the challenges relating to infrastructure planning and delivery
• increase investor confidence that projects will be delivered • better coordinate the way infrastructure is planned and delivered, and integrated with surrounding land uses.