Chapter 1: Year in Review

Secretary's report

It is with great pleasure that I deliver this annual report as Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

The Department plays a vital and unique role in Australian Government administration, with a complex range of policy, program and regulatory responsibilities in an area of public policy that directly affects every Australian.

The Department has an excellent record delivering successful outcomes and is well placed to identify and address our capability challenges. This has been made possible through strong organisational planning, attention to detail in key areas of agency capability and a willingness to innovate and tackle significant challenges when they arise.

When I reflect back on our achievements in 2011–12, I am pleased with our delivery of outcomes and the way in which the Department has led a number of national reforms. We led successful major national policy reforms in infrastructure investment and transport regulation, delivered a record Commonwealth investment program and met our responsibilities as a regulator of safety, security, environment and investment planning.

Our key achievements during 2011–12 are summarised below. Detailed reports on how we performed against the performance indicators published in the 2011–12 Portfolio Budget Statements appear in chapters 3 and 4. Chapter 5 reports the activities of Infrastructure Australia, a portfolio advisory council for which we provide supporting staff. Chapter 6 reports on our management and accountability during 2011–12. A series of appendices and the audited financial statements follow, giving additional detail on particular facets of our performance.

Infrastructure investment

In 2011–12, we made a significant contribution towards investment in land transport infrastructure and development of strategic investment policy. This included administering more than $7.8billion in direct and indirect grants for construction and maintenance of land transport infrastructure. This year saw the completion of a number of large transformative national investment projects and increased national investment in critical transport infrastructure projects.

We were key players in improving the way in which Australia efficiently delivers its national investment programs, particularly through reforming jurisdiction cost estimation, project delivery and project planning to reduce transaction costs and ensure effective project delivery of public investment. To assist improved national planning through a credible and easily understood investment ‘pipeline’ the Department led the development of an innovative website, the National Infrastructure Construction Schedule (NICS), which outlines government-funded infrastructure projects in Australia. NICS collates the infrastructure commitments of the three tiers of government to present a single timeline of projects. NICS' primary goal is to encourage a more competitive and efficient infrastructure market. Since its launch in May 2012, the website has had over half a million visits, including many international ones.

We played a major part in helping to make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable. In October 2011, we released the second annual State of Australian Cities Report 2011. The two reports have been fully downloaded more than 1.3 million times. The Creating Places for People: an urban design protocol for Australian Cities document and website was released in November 2011.

National transport investment planning

The Department led critical national investment planning initiatives including the Joint Study on aviation capacity for the Sydney region and the east coast High Speed Rail (HSR) Implementation Study. The Joint Study on aviation capacity for the Sydney region. which reviewed the long term aviation and transport investment needs of the Sydney basin was led by a dedicated Department team and the final detailed report was provided to the Minister and the New South Wales Premier in March 2012. The HSR study was undertaken by our High Speed Rail Unit and its final report will be completed at the end of 2012.

Transport security

The Department continued to work towards ensuring a secure Australian transport system in 2011–12, through engagement with all stakeholders. We continued implementing the Australian Government's enhanced security screening at our major and regional airports, continued to reform access to secure facilities and enhanced cargo security measures for our aviation system. These new initiatives are targeting known vulnerabilities in our national transport security regime. We also continued a highly effective regulatory regime targeting the key security risks facing our transport system.

National transport regulation

In August 2011 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signed the historic National Partnerships Agreements which settled that for the first time Australia will implement a single national law to regulate all rail safety, heavy vehicle and commercial shipping operations. The single national law and the establishment of the single national regulators are historic reforms which will enable Australian transport to achieve improved safety outcomes and end the dislocation to business operations caused by differing jurisdiction regulatory regimes. The Department led work to establish the national transport regulators, drafting of the national legislation and co-ordinating the agreement of jurisdictions to the key implementation arrangements to establish the national regimes.

Maritime

There have been some major achievements in surface transport during 2011–12. In September 2011 the most significant shipping reform package in Australia's maritime history, the Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Economy package, was announced by the Australian Government. This was the culmination of extensive work since 2008 by the Department to implement the Government's shipping policy objectives to revitalise the Australian shipping industry and promote employment by Australians in the maritime industry. The reform package includes tax reforms, a strengthened and simplified regulatory framework, the establishment of the Australian International Shipping Register and the establishment of a Maritime Workforce Development Forum. The new regime came into effect on 1 July 2012.

On 19 June 2012, the Navigation Bill 2012 and the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Bill 2012 and other associated Bills were passed by the House of Representatives. On 12 September 2012 and 13 September 2012 respectively, the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Bill 2012 and Navigation Bill 2012 and associated Bills were passed by the Senate. These Bills modernise the Navigation Act 1912 and for the first time enable the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to operate a single national maritime regulatory regime for all domestic and international commercial shipping operations.

Road safety

The Department played a significant role in improving road safety in 2011–12. The Department chaired meetings of an Australian initiated and led international expert working group developing a global standard to improve vehicle crashworthiness in side impacts with narrow objects. This is a major initiative for future vehicle design.

The Department worked closely with state and territory road safety agencies to implement the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020, which is aiming for a 30 per cent reduction in road-crash deaths and serious injuries by 2020.

Air transport

The Department continued to implement more than 130 initiatives detailed in the Australian Government's Aviation White Paper in 2011–12. Some of the major initiatives completed in 2012 included: the Joint Study on aviation capacity for the Sydney region in the first quarter of 2012; agreement to National Airport Safeguarding Advisory Group (NASAG) Guidelines by the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure, in May 2012; and successful negotiation of enhanced international air service agreements with key markets such as Indonesia, India and Japan.

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 for the Sydney region, the National Road Safety Strategy, and the National Urban Policy.

Looking forward to 2012–13

2012–13 will be another important year for the Department.

We will continue to develop and adapt to the changing environment to ensure we are a leading investment strategy and planning, policy, regulatory, and program and project delivery agency.

We will continue to have a strong people focus and embrace continuous improvement and innovation in our policy development and delivery processes.

Some of the key priorities for the year ahead include: finalising the establishment of single national regulators for maritime safety, rail safety and heavy vehicles; continuing the reform program for maritime safety; completing further work on the aviation capacity for the Sydney region; continuing the second phase high speed rail study; implementing the National Urban Policy; and ensuring Australia is best placed to meet new and emerging threats in transport security.

In addressing such challenges we will build on our policy development and delivery, and strengthen our engagement and partnership with stakeholders and the users of our services.

In summary

In terms of addressing and implementing the Australian Government's policy and program initiatives, and in enhancing our ability to continue to do this, 2011–12 was a year of considerable achievement. Our success is a direct reflection of the professionalism and dedication of all employees.

Thank you to all employees for their commitment to deliver the Department's objectives over the past year. I look forward to the year ahead.

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Last Updated: 17 November, 2014