Case Study 3.2: Infrastructure Australia
On coming to office in November 2007, the Australian Government announced that developing the nation's productive capacity and modernising key infrastructure assets was integral to its policy platform.
The government made the establishment of Infrastructure Australia one of its priorities within its first 100 days in office, reflecting its view that Australia's future economic challenges, such as climate change, population ageing and more immediate concerns around capacity constraints and inflationary pressures, require a forward-looking infrastructure sector.
The Department facilitated the drafting of legislation to establish Infrastructure Australia. It worked closely with central agencies, legislative drafters and state governments to ensure that Infrastructure Australia's functions were well defined.
In parallel, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) set up a working group to advise on a forward work program for Infrastructure Australia. The COAG Infrastructure Working Group is chaired by the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and has representatives from Commonwealth, state and territory governments, including a representative from the Department. The Department also provides the working group with secretariat services, such as arranging meetings and coordinating the work program.
The Infrastructure Australia Act 2008, enabling Infrastructure Australia to be established, was enacted on 9 April 2008.
Infrastructure Australia is a statutory advisory council, with members appointed for a three-year period by the Minister.
The Council consists of the Chair, Sir Rod Eddington, and 11 other members, who were appointed in May 2008. The Commonwealth nominated nine members (including the Chair), with five nominees requiring experience in the private sector and one with a knowledge of local government. The three remaining members were nominated by the state and territory governments.
Infrastructure Australia met for the first time on 4 June 2008. The Prime Minister addressed the first meeting.
A budget allocation of $20 million over four years has been provided to support Infrastructure Australia's work. Five more meetings are planned to the end of 2008.
Infrastructure Australia will be supported by an Infrastructure Coordinator, Mr Michael Deegan, who will lead the Office of Infrastructure Coordination located in Sydney. The Infrastructure Coordinator is appointed by the Minister and the Office of Infrastructure Coordination is staffed by the Department.
Infrastructure Australia's role
Infrastructure Australia is to report regularly to COAG through the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.
Prime Minister Rudd attending the 4 June 2008 meeting of Infrastructure Australia (Photo AAP)
Governments, investors and infrastructure owners will receive advice from Infrastructure Australia on numerous issues, including the current and future infrastructure needs of Australia; mechanisms for financing infrastructure investments; policy, pricing and regulatory issues that may impact on the utilisation of infrastructure; and impediments to the efficient utilisation of national infrastructure networks.
In the 2008-09 Budget the Government announced the establishment of a Building Australia Fund www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/aa/releases/2008/May/budget-infra_15-2008.aspx. Allocations from the fund will be guided by Infrastructure Australia's national audit and infrastructure priority list.