26 February 2021 - Roads Australia (RA), the peak body for roads within an integrated transport system, says the Infrastructure Priority List (IPL) released today by Infrastructure Australia (IA) confirms the central role of enhanced transport infrastructure in promoting post-COVID economic recovery and welcomes its clear focus on enhancing connectivity within Australia’s integrated transport networks.
“The addition of a record 44 new proposals to the IPL confirms what our industry has said for months – COVID will have long-lasting impacts on demand for transport infrastructure and services,” said RA President Michael Bushby.
“This year’s IPL reflects this reality by listing several High Priority Initiatives that can help deal with the challenge of congestion, enhance connectivity and allow road maintenance to be undertaken in a more strategic manner. Initiatives such as developing a Network Optimisation Program for roads, addressing the national road maintenance backlog, and enhanced connectivity in our road networks through projects such as the M6 and M12 in Sydney, Melbourne’s North East Link and M80 upgrades and the M1 Pacific Motorway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane are vital in this respect.
“RA also welcomes the IPL’s focus on the capacity of rail to facilitate greater efficiency and connectivity across our integrated transport networks for people and freight, through projects that include the Sydney Metro City & Southwest, the extension of the Gold Coast Light Rail, Perth’s METRONET, Inland Rail and enhanced freight rail connections to ports.
“As IA notes, the pandemic has witnessed major changes to the way people work, as well as a 200 per cent increase in those moving from our major cities to regional areas. That will have profound flow-on effects for planning, delivering and maintaining transport infrastructure for people and freight in regional areas. This makes it more urgent that governments and industry work collaboratively to implement reforms that will permit our industry to adapt to this changed environment.
“RA’s Procurement Reform Report released in September 2020 makes recommendations specifically geared toward enabling engagement with small and medium contractors, removing barriers to cross-jurisdictional recognition of skills and qualifications and better-aligning education and training programs so that they reflect contemporary industry needs. Progress across all these areas will be vital if an expanded pipeline of regional infrastructure projects is to be efficiently delivered.
“Regional population growth should also elevate the importance of regional road maintenance and safety improvements, given that nearly two thirds of all fatal road crashes occur on rural and remote roads. RA has previously highlighted the potential of low-cost, high-gains road safety treatments to make significant improvements to roads in regional communities – and these should be prioritised by all jurisdictions.
“Similarly, RA welcomes IA’s move to prioritise the development of enabling infrastructure for renewable energy in the National Electricity Market and for hydrogen exports.
“We have previously recognised a need for greater green energy production to deliver emissions reductions across the transport sector through greater EV uptake, as well as the capacity of hydrogen to enhance environmental performance in public transport and as a job-creating export opportunity for Australia.
“RA will proactively pursue opportunities to bring government and industry together to progress initiatives identified in the IPL and ensure Australia’s integrated transport infrastructure meets the needs of our economy and communities.