Year in Review

Secretary's Report

It gives me great pleasure to deliver this annual report as Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

As the newly appointed Secretary, early in 2009–10, I commissioned a strategic audit to assess the Department's capability and capacity to respond to the Australian Government's priorities, and to deliver the Australian Government's agenda across the portfolio. Two of the initial outcomes of this audit saw the establishment of the Major Infrastructure Projects Office and the Policy and Research Division.

The strategic audit also highlighted that effective dialogue with all our stakeholders is crucial to build support for and enable an exchange of views to inform the Department's policies and programs. To enhance and focus the Department's capacity to engage effectively with stakeholders, I established a Community Engagement Branch to take carriage of all stakeholder engagement and communication functions.

Our operating environment

The Department, through its three outcomes, played a key role in supporting the Australian Government to assist Australia face current and emerging economic challenges in an environment of rapid change, including by:

  • developing 21st century infrastructure
  • fostering efficient and secure transport systems, and
  • addressing local government and regional issues.

The Department delivered a range of programs and services which benefit all Australians, and provide policy advice to the Australian Government, underpinned by targeted economic analysis and informed by active engagement with stakeholders.

The Department's key accomplishments during 2009–10 are summarised below. Detailed reports on how the Department performed against the performance indicators published in the 2009–10 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) appear in chapters 3, 4 and 5. Chapter 6 is the annual report of the activities of Infrastructure Australia, a portfolio advisory council for which the Department provides supporting staff (shown in the PBS as Program 1.2). Chapter 7 provides a report on the Department's management and accountability during 2009–10. A series of appendices and audited financial statements provide additional detail on particular facets of the Department's performance.

Infrastructure investment

The Department administered programs that provided more than $6.5 billion in direct and indirect grants for the construction and maintenance of land transport infrastructure. This was an increase over the $5.9 billion provided during 2008–09 and included supplementation of more than $1.3 billion in additional appropriations as part of the Australian Government's Economic Stimulus Plan.

The Major Infrastructure Projects Office was established within the Department to provide governance, information, training, tools and value-adding services for major infrastructure project delivery.

Transport security

The Department continued to administer Australia's transport security arrangements. The Department led work which resulted in the Australian Government's decision on 9 February 2010 to implement measures to improve passenger screening and cargo security at Australia's major international and regional airports.

Surface transport

The Department continued to lead the development and implementation of the Council of Australian Governments' decisions to implement reform proposals to introduce single national regulatory systems for heavy vehicles, maritime safety and rail safety. This included the development of National Partnership Agreements, designed in conjunction with the state and territory governments, to underpin the national regulatory systems.

Road safety

The Department facilitated the establishment of the seven-member National Road Safety Council. The new council advises the Australian Transport Council on the implementation of national road safety measures. Also, in conjunction with the Australian Automobile Association, the Department has been working to implement keys2drive, a national program for learner drivers.

Air transport

The Department supported the Australian Government to complete and publish the Aviation White Paper as a comprehensive statement of national aviation policy. The Aviation White Paper was launched by the Minister in December 2009, setting out a range of policy settings and initiatives for the Australian aviation industry over the next 20 years. A range of initiatives were implemented immediately while others require enabling legislation or further input from stakeholders and consideration by the Australian Government before they can be put into operation.

Regional development

Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees were appointed in all states and territories, and the first RDA National Forum was held, in March 2010, at the Australian Parliament House, Canberra. The forum brought together committee chairs and deputy chairs to network and find solutions to common issues facing their regions, and to learn about relevant government programs, services and initiatives.

Working with the Western Australian Government, the Shire of Wyndham—East Kimberley and other direct providers, the Department implemented the delivery of the $195.2 million East Kimberley Development Package. The projects deliver social and common use infrastructure investment for the social and economic development of the East Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Local government

The Department hosted the third meeting of the Australian Council of Local Government in June 2010. Under the theme of ‘Sustainable Communities’, the meeting covered issues such as strengthening economic security, infrastructure investment, adapting to environmental pressure and the impact of population change.

During 2009–10 the Department administered the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program that provided more than $329.5 million for 1,592 community infrastructure projects identified by local communities as priority investments for their regions.

Strategic policy and research

The Policy and Research Division was established in February 2010 to strengthen the Department's strategic policy capabilities. The work of the division assists in areas such as infrastructure, cities, transport reform, local government and regional development. The new division includes the existing Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, which continued its data collection and economic analysis role, including a number of influential publications.

In summary

The year 2009–10 was one of significant achievement for the Department, as we implemented the Australian Government's policy and program initiatives and continued to assist the Australian Government in delivering its Economic Stimulus Plan to counter the effects of the global recession. Throughout the year, the dedication and professionalism of staff at all levels ensured that the Department continued to successfully meet its challenges.

I thank all departmental staff for their contributions of the past year.

Mike Mrdak

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Last Updated: 24 October, 2014