Budget underscores need for coordinated national project pipeline

Roads Australia (RA) has welcomed investments made in transport infrastructure and accelerating the decarbonisation of transport contained in the Albanese Government’s first Budget. RA is also reiterating its call for Infrastructure Australia (IA) to be given responsibility for coordinating a national project pipeline, so there is greater certainty for industry, governments and communities.

“The Federal Government has been very clear in the weeks leading up to tonight’s Budget that it would need to reprioritise some transport infrastructure projects due to capacity constraints in the economy, particularly around labour shortages and supply chain challenges,” said RA CEO Michael Kilgariff.

“While some of these impacts are undoubtedly due to the effects of COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, they also partly result from the absence of a nationally agreed long-term project pipeline, meaning jurisdictions are effectively competing with each other in a race to deliver projects. This ultimately hampers national productivity – and is leading to culture challenges for the industry’s workforce including burnout, job dissatisfaction and poor mental health outcomes. These all impede our industry’s ability to attract new workers.”

“RA has been consistent in its call for Infrastructure Australia to be given a remit for the development, management and ongoing coordination of a national pipeline of infrastructure projects in partnership with the states and territories.”

“With an independent review of IA’s functions now underway, it is the perfect time for the Federal Government to give IA this responsibility and for all states and territories to cooperate in that process. This will help industry to avoid the ‘chop and change’ approach to infrastructure planning and delivery moving forward.”

“It will enable better planning of resource allocation (including labour resources) so we can avoid community disappointment when projects run over-time, over-budget or fail to deliver all of the potential transport and social benefits.”

“To allow the transport infrastructure projects supported in this Budget to deliver the desired economic, employment and community benefits, policy makers will need to focus on reforms in other areas including procurement, skilled migration and training, initiatives to support greater diversity in the workforce and critically, transport network pricing.”

“The Budget is also notable for its welcome investments in measures to help accelerate the decarbonisation of the transport sector. RA applauds the commitments in this Budget to reduce taxes on electric vehicles, invest in charging infrastructure for EVs and highway refuelling stations for hydrogen vehicles, which will play a crucial role in decarbonising freight transport.”

“The commitment from the Federal Government to ensuring its fleet purchases and leases will be 75 per cent electric vehicles by 2025 will also help the key challenge of boosting the supply of EVs to the secondhand vehicle market in Australia.”

“RA welcomes the fact that the Government’s recently released consultation paper for the National Electric Vehicle Strategy explicitly states that Australia will need a more sustainable and fair way to pay for roads. As the transition of the nation’s vehicle fleet accelerates, we must make sure our transport network pricing mechanisms keep pace.”

“Everyone understands this will be a challenging reform – but it is the only way to secure the long-term revenue certainty that governments and industry need. Now is the right moment for the Federal Government to lead a mature and collaborative engagement between governments, industry and the community which will transition Australia to a modern, sustainable and equitable system of road user charging.”

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