Year in Review

Secretary's report

I have great pleasure in delivering this annual report as Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

2010–11 was a year of transformation and delivery for the Department. The machinery-of-government changes following the 2010 federal election resulted in this Department being renamed as the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. The Department's regional development and local government functions were transferred to the new Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government (DRARDLG). Along with the transfer of these functions, a commensurate level of staffing and financial resources were also moved to the new Department. I wish all former staff well as they deliver on the Australian Government's Regional Australia agenda.

The Department continued to achieve solid results in delivering our infrastructure and transport outcomes, as highlighted below and detailed throughout this report. For results achieved by our former regional development and local government activities, I refer you to the DRARLDG annual report.

Our operating environment

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

  • developing 21st-century infrastructure, and
  • fostering efficient, safe and secure transport systems.

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

The Department's key accomplishments during 2010–11 are summarised on pages 3 and 4. Detailed reports on how the Department performed against the performance indicators published in the 2010–11 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) appear in chapters 3 and 4. Chapter 5 reports the activities of Infrastructure Australia, a portfolio advisory council for which the Department provides supporting staff. Chapter 6 provides a report on the Department's management and accountability during 2010–11. A series of appendices and audited financial statements follow, which provide additional detail on particular facets of the Department's performance.

Infrastructure investment

The Department made a significant contribution towards investment in land transport infrastructure in 2010–11 as well as towards the development of strategic investment policy. This included administering more than $3.9 billion in direct and indirect grants for the construction and maintenance of land transport infrastructure.

Our Cities, Our Future-a national urban policy for a productive, sustainable and liveable future (the National Urban Policy) was released in May. The National Urban Policy establishes, for the first time, an overall framework to guide national policy development and public and private investment in cities.

During the year the Department began work on a strategic study into a high-speed rail network on the east coast of Australia. The first phase report of the study was released in August 2011.

Transport security

The Department actively worked towards ensuring a secure transport system for Australia, through a range of engagement activities with international institutions, international partners, regional dialogue, and bilateral engagement. It contributed to international capacity building, including last ports of call inspections, and delivered professional development and assistance both domestically and internationally. The Department also continued the implementation of the Australian Government's enhanced security screening and cargo security measures for our aviation system.

Surface transport

Steps towards the revitalisation of the Australian shipping industry were taken by the Department with the release of a public discussion paper Reforming Australia's Shipping. Implementation of national regulators for maritime, rail and heavy vehicles also progressed, with transport ministers agreeing to forward Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). COAG signed these historic IGAs in August 2011 to provide for the establishment of single national regulators and single laws in 2013.

Road safety

The Department led and coordinated the development of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020, Australia's 10-year strategy to reduce the level of death and serious injury caused by road crashes.

It played a part in an Australian-led international working group, which is developing a global standard to improve vehicle crashworthiness in side impacts with narrow objects.

Air transport

The Department continued the implementation initiatives detailed in the Australian Government's Aviation White Paper including implementing enhanced arrangements for planning and development at federal airports, including passage of amendments to the Airports Act 1996, and establishment of planning coordination forums and community aviation consultation groups. There were also a number of initiatives implemented to better manage the impact of aircraft noise, such as new regulations to restrict the operation of noisy freight jets from Australia's major airports, and the appointment of the first Aircraft Noise Ombudsman.

Strategic policy and research

The Policy and Research Division, which includes the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, has identified new and emerging policy challenges facing infrastructure, cities and transport into the future. As well as helping strengthen the Department's strategic policy capability, it has contributed significantly to research across a range of departmental priorities, including the Joint Study on Aviation Capacity in the Sydney Basin, the Road Safety Strategy, and the National Urban Policy. The Division also oversaw the successful completion of the first phase of the high-speed rail study, which will continue with phase two into 2011–12.

Looking forward to 2011–12

In 2011–12, the Department will continue to be at the forefront of the Australian Government's efforts to build a more productive, sustainable and liveable Australia. It will play an important role in providing the Australian Government with policy advice to help respond to new, emerging and critical issues affecting our stakeholders and the nation. These issues include: growth in demand for infrastructure; growing demand on Australia's transport network; projected population and demographic changes; development of Australia's major cities; and tackling climate change.

In summary

2010–11 was a year of significant achievement and also significant change for the Department. It is a testament to the professionalism and commitment of all departmental staff that we were able to meet the challenges of the restructure and address our new priorities successfully.

I thank all staff for their contributions over the past year, and look forward to the year ahead.

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Last Updated: 29 October, 2014