Chapter 3: Infrastructure

Detailed report on performance—continued

e) Increasing the ability of local councils to improve land transport infrastructure

Roads to Recovery

The Nation Building Roads to Recovery program provides funding for projects at a local level. Each local authority across Australia is guaranteed a share of the program funding. The Australian Government directly funds each council. Decisions on projects to be funded are made locally and reported to the Australian Government. In 2011–12, a total of $326.5 million was paid under the program to local councils, three state governments, the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory governments and the Indian Ocean Territories.

Since the current program started in 2009–10, councils and other funding recipients have reported that 28 per cent of funding has been used on projects which helped achieve their asset maintenance strategies and 25 per cent on projects which improved road safety. The next highest categories were: improved access for heavy vehicles (9 per cent); amenity of nearby residents (6 per cent); regional economic development (5 per cent); improvements to school bus routes (5 per cent) and traffic management (5 per cent).

Councils are required to maintain their own source expenditure on roads (amounts they spend which are from council revenues excluding grants from state or territory governments and project specific developer contributions) at or above a specified level. This expenditure is audited as part of each council's annual report to acquit the program funds received. The requirement aims to ensure that Roads to Recovery funded projects are additional to road works which local governments would normally deliver.

The most recent data available to the Department shows that local government was required to spend $1.98 billion on own-source funded road works in 2010–11. Reported total own source roads expenditure in 2010–11 was $2.79 billion.

Own-source expenditure is monitored at the council level and individual councils which do not meet the requirement in a given year can apply for a waiver for the relevant financial year. At 30 June 2012, 13 of the 570 eligible funding recipients received a waiver during 2011–12 for an expenditure maintenance breach in either 2009–10 or 2010–11 and 34 expenditure maintenance breaches had yet to be finalised. A further 62 funding recipients had yet to finalise their 2010–11 annual reports.

Did you know?

Total domestic road freight has grown six-fold over the last four decades, from around 27 billion tonne-kilometres in 1971 to over 180 billion tonne-kilometres in 2007. The productivity of heavy freight vehicles has grown almost six-fold over the same period.

Source: Truck productivity: sources, trends and future prospects, BITRE Report 123.

Note: 1 tonne-kilometre is defined as moving 1 tonne, 1 kilometre.

Case Study—Ipswich Motorway

The Ipswich Motorway links Ipswich and Brisbane and is part of the National Land Transport Network. From Dinmore in the west to Rocklea in the east, it covers some 19 kilometres. With the Warrego and Cunningham highways joining at Dinmore, the motorway is a vital traffic and freight corridor servicing the western area of south east Queensland and carries more than 1,000 articulated trucks a day. Ipswich is predicted to be the fastest growing local government area in Queensland between 2011 and 2026.

The Australian Government has invested over $2.8 billion to upgrade the Ipswich Motorway through the Nation Building Program, 2008–09 to 2013–14.

In March 2008, work began with the Australian Government funded project between Wacol and Darra to widen the motorway to six lanes over five kilometres. Construction incorporated major upgrading to the Centenary Highway—Ipswich Motorway Interchange; upgrading of the Centenary Highway between Sumners Road and Boundary Road; new bridges over Bullockhead, Sandy Creek and the Ipswich rail line; and service roads. The project was completed in December 2010.

A major milestone was reached in June 2012 when the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport opened the Dinmore to Goodna section of the Ipswich Motorway upgrade, six months ahead of schedule. The project upgraded this section to six lanes with extensive service roads and local connectors, pedestrian overpasses and cycle ways and complements the earlier completed works.

Australian Government funding included $10 million to develop a business case for the 7 kilometre Rocklea to Darra section of the motorway; the remaining section is yet to be upgraded.

Image of Ipswich Motorway

f) Major Projects Facilitation

Six projects received Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status or had their status renewed in 2011–12, in the sectors of infrastructure, petroleum development and mining. These projects represent a potential investment of around $33 billion and will lead to the creation of about 8,500 jobs in the construction phase and 4,000 jobs during operations. The Department provides facilitation services to all approved MPF proponents, by helping to coordinate all Australian Government approvals, and ensuring they are coordinated with relevant state and territory government processes so they occur simultaneously, with minimal duplication. The program also ensures that other government agencies respond promptly to any issues that proponents raise, so projects can proceed as quickly as possible.

g) Setting a national strategy to guide policy and investments in urban Australia

Implementing the National Urban Policy

The Department's Major Cities Unit is the secretariat for the Commonwealth Group on Cities, a high level agency group, chaired by the Secretary of the Department, which:

  • coordinates a common approach across Australian Government portfolios on future engagement with, and investment in, cities
  • updates the National Urban Policy Implementation Plan to chart and coordinate the progress of Australian Government agencies towards the goals of the National Urban Policy, and
  • develops an Australian Government position on cities issues to be considered by the Transport and Infrastructure Senior Officials' Committee (TISOC) and the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI), including responding to the COAG Reform Council's report on capital cities.

As part of the response to the COAG Reform Council's report on the capital city strategic planning systems, COAG reaffirmed a commitment to consideration of city issues and that this would be taken forward by the SCOTI.

Successful applications to the Liveable Cities program, an initiative of the National Urban Policy, were announced in April 2012. It is a competitive grants program of up to $20 million over two years for planning and design as well as demonstration projects. Assessment of projects included the extent to which they met the objectives of the National Urban Policy.

Continuing research on cities and urban issues

The annual State of Australian Cities reports provides data and analysis on cities with populations over 100,000. The 2011 report was released by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in October 2011. The 2010 and 2011 State of Australian Cities reports have been collectively downloaded more than 1.3 million times. The reports are available on the Department's website www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/mcu/soac.aspx. Work is underway on the 2012 report which will include data from the 2011 Census.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics is also undertaking a series of investigations into spatial changes in population, employment and commuting in our largest cities. It explores the extent to which the spatial development and commuting patterns have been reshaped in the direction envisaged by recent metropolitan plans. Reports have been published for Perth and Melbourne and research is underway for Sydney and South East Queensland.

Urban Policy Forum

The Australian Government established the Urban Policy Forum, consisting of members from across the urban policy spectrum, including representatives from: across government; the infrastructure, transport, planning, building and environmental industries; academia; and community and social service bodies. The forum is chaired by the Secretary of the Department. The forum's role is to:

  • maintain engagement with stakeholders who are not formally linked into COAG arrangements
  • generate a valuable source of policy advice, and
  • support implementation of the National Urban Policy.

The Urban Policy Forum has so far provided initial input into the development of the State of Australian Cities 2012 report, and a draft report on walking, riding and access to public transport.

Did you know?

The latest data available shows that in 2009–10, 174.9 billion passenger-kilometres were travelled, in total, across Australia's capital cities. 85 per cent of these were served by passenger cars; 11 per cent by public transport modes.

Source: Australian Infrastructure Statistics—Yearbook 2012, Table T 3.3 i.

Note: 1 passenger-kilometre is defined as 1 passenger being moved 1 kilometre.

Case Study—State of Australian Cities 2011 Report

The productivity, sustainability and liveability of Australian cities are critical to Australia's future. Governments, businesses and city dwellers need to understand the economic, environmental and social challenges facing our cities as well as changes taking place and the implications for them and the nation.

The Australian Government has committed to annual reports on the state of Australian cities to help understand the dynamics of Australia's 18 biggest cities—those with populations of over 100,000 people. Two reports have been produced so far, in 2010 and 2011.

The State of Australian Cities reports are snapshots of how cities are progressing towards the goals of the National Urban Policy; to improve productivity, advance sustainability, enhance liveability and provide good governance. The reports highlight current and emerging issues for productivity, such as the numbers of people moving between cities, growth in outer urban areas of capital cities, the types of housing being built, and where industries and jobs are concentrated. They show how people travel to work, including the rise in the proportion of people walking, riding and using public transport.

Sustainability issues covered include the impacts of changing climate, trends in water and energy use, rates of recycling, air quality and waste management. Liveability concerns the health and wellbeing of urban communities, costs of living and how easily people can access employment, community services and recreational facilities.

Cover of State of Australian Cities 2011 Report

The State of Australian Cities reports are intended to be accessible to as many people as possible. The online versions of the first two State of Australian Cities reports have been downloaded in full more than 1.3 million times, a good indication of strong demand for this information. The reports have been cited in industry and government publications, including by the Productivity Commission and by Infrastructure Australia in their 2012 report to the Council of Australian Governments. The State of Australian Cities reports are referenced in many university courses and by high school teachers and students.

The Department's Major Cities Unit collaborates with leading urban researchers, industry and other non-government organisations as well as other spheres of government to continue to improve the quality and relevance of the reports.

Urban Design Protocol

Creating places for People: an urban design protocol for Australian cities was launched by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in November 2011. The objective of the protocol is to encourage world-class urban design, one of COAG's criteria for capital city strategic planning systems.

The protocol was developed through collaboration with, and is championed by, all three levels of government as well as peak business and community organisations. It has a website www.urbandesign.gov.au and twitter account @UrbanDesignAU.

The protocol has been incorporated into the Australian Green Infrastructure Council's Infrastructure Sustainability rating tool, and the Green Building Council of Australia's Green Star—Communities PILOT rating tool.

Integrated transport networks

Work began during 2011–12 on a report on the role of walking and riding and improved access to public transport as important components of transport systems. Input was sought from the Australian Bicycle Council, the Urban Policy Forum, health, transport, planning and economic professionals, and relevant peak stakeholder groups.

h) Investment in regional and community infrastructure

The Australian Government developed the $20 million Sustainable Australia–Liveable Cities program to help state, territory and local governments meet the challenges of improving quality of life in our capitals and major regional cities. In April 2012, 25 successful proposals were announced after a funding round was held. Proponents will be implementing projects over the next two years.

With the Infrastructure Employment Projects program, the Department finalised all funding arrangements and finalised payments on a further six projects. Four projects are ongoing.

The Cloncurry Community Precinct funding has been completed with Australian Government funding helping gain substantial private sector funding for this outback town to build community facilities. The Macquarie Point Railyards remediation project will provide the catalyst for the development of the Hobart waterfront and CBD.

i) Regional Infrastructure Fund

The Australian Government established the Regional Infrastructure Fund to invest the proceeds of a resurgent resource boom to address urgent infrastructure needs, while supporting the mining industry, boosting export capacity and developing and growing regional economics.

In 2011–12, three Regional Infrastructure Fund construction projects and four planning projects were approved, with total payments of $108 million. Of the seven projects, five are in Queensland, and one each in New South Wales and South Australia.

Case Study—Black Spot Evaluation

Nation Building Black Spot Projects programs are designed to improve road safety at sites that have had unusually high rates of crashes involving fatalities or injuries, or that are likely to have them.

The first Australian Government Black Spot program ran from July 1990 to June 1993. It was reintroduced in July 1996 and extended several times. In the 2012–13 Budget, the Australian Government announced $300 million to extend Black Spot funding for a further five years from 2014–15 to 2018–19.

The Department is committed to thorough and ongoing evaluation of its programs. Black Spot funding has been subject to three evaluations by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) since the program began. The first was published in 1995, the second in 2001.

The third study, Evaluation of the National Black Spot Program (BITRE Report 126) was released in May 2012. It covered 2,578 completed Australian Government-funded Black Spot Projects that had been approved between 1996–97 and 2002–03.

The evaluation answered three main questions by showing:

  • Black Spot treatments were effective in reducing crash rates
  • crashes were avoided and lives saved, and
  • the program was a good use of resources compared with alternatives.
Cover of Black Spot Evaluation

The report estimated that the projects were reducing fatal and casualty crashes by 30 per cent and property damage only crashes by 26 per cent. The 2,578 projects were estimated to be saving 30 lives a year.

The Black Spot program has performed well in economic terms, achieving an estimated benefit–cost ratio of 4.7 at a 7 per cent discount rate—which is a benefit of $4.70 from an investment of $1—based on estimated casualty crashes avoided and project costs.

The evaluation found that roundabouts were the most effective treatment, while priority signs and altering traffic flow direction performed best in benefit–cost ratio terms. No treatments were found to increase crashes. Case studies of traffic flow showed that their costs vary greatly and can be substantial. The report is available on the BITRE website www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2012/report_126.aspx.

j) COAG Infrastructure Working Group and COAG Business Regulation and Competition Working Group

Infrastructure Working Group

The Department continued to provide secretariat services to the COAG Infrastructure Working Group (IWG). Meetings were held on 10 December 2011 and 15 June 2012. Following the restructure of Ministerial Councils in late 2011, the COAG IWG now reports to COAG through the SCOTI.

The Department coordinated and led a number of COAG transport reforms in 2011–12 through the IWG. These reforms work towards the delivery of a seamless national economy that aims to contribute to: reducing costs incurred by business in complying with unnecessary and inconsistent regulation across jurisdictions; enhancing Australia's longer-term growth, improving workforce participation and overall labour mobility; and expanding Australia's productive capacity over the medium-term through competition reform, enabling stronger economic growth.

Key achievements of the IWG in 2011–12 included:

  • a public consultation process on developing a national approach to traditional contracting and agreement on methodology
  • publication of Infrastructure Planning Delivery: Best Practice Case Studies Volume 2 booklet, which builds on lessons learnt in Volume 1 and highlights emerging best practices
  • launch of the National Infrastructure Construction Schedule by Minister Albanese giving greater certainty for industry investment and increased competition
  • agreement on an approach to review the existing pre-qualification threshold for the non-residential construction industry, and
  • an investigation into patronage risk forecasting in response to increasing public and industry concern over failures of high profile Public–Private Partnerships projects and agreement on a methodology to reform patronage forecasting.
COAG reforms

The Department further contributed to national reforms through its participation on inter-departmental committees, in particular the Environmental Regulatory Reform Taskforce established to streamline approval processes for major projects.

k) COAG Road Reform Plan

The Department provided continued policy guidance to the COAG Road Reform Plan (CRRP) Project Directorate and project oversight through participation on the CRRP Project Board. A feasibility study of more direct heavy vehicle charging and funding was submitted to COAG in December 2011. The study is a key decision point for COAG on whether to proceed with the plan. The Department is actively engaged in further work in preparation for the next phase of the CRRP reforms should COAG decide to proceed, following consideration of the feasibility study.

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Last Updated: 17 November, 2014