Chapter 1: Year in Review

Performance Snapshot

  • Progressed the introduction of biometric technology to airport security schemes in Australia
  • Vehicle Emissions Discussion Paper released with over 80 submissions received
  • Heavy Vehicle Road Reform—assisted publication of first editions of registers of levels of service and four-year expenditure plans for key freight routes
  • The Department hosted an aviation security bilateral with New Zealand, to increase collaboration on aviation security policy issues
  • Round 2 of the Bridges Renewal Program—141 Projects to share $103.1 million funding
  • $1.0 billion announced through National Stronger Regions Fund
  • 189 learning opportunities; 1408 employees participating; 92% delivered in-house
  • 19 security assessments conducted at key overseas last ports of call airports
  • 152 applications received for round 5 of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program
  • Airport master plans approved for Alice Springs, Camden and Hobart airports
  • Award winning national key freight routes map launched online, with a digital searchable platform
  • Australia's updated Aviation State Safety Program was completed
  • The Department's Graduate Development Program voted an Australian Top Graduate Employer
  • Decision announced to retain ARTC to deliver Inland Rail—with an additional $593.7 million in equity
  • $1.14 billion provided to Local Governments under the Financial Assistance Grants
  • 162 projects approved for $505.7 million funding through rounds 1 and 2 of National Stronger Regions Fund
  • A presence established at the Australian Embassy in Beijing
  • Regional Development Australia Committees comprise over 500 local leaders
  • The Department responded to 503 questions on notice
  • Northern Australia Roads Programs Three roundtables held to shape the Beef Roads Program
  • Expansive bilateral air services arrangements settled with Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Nauru, Nigeria, the Philippines, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates
  • Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and draft Airport Plan for Western Sydney Airport released for consultation
    • informed by 700 field surveys, 19 technical studies
    • nearly 5,000 submissions received on draft EIS
    • 16 public information sessions held with close to 1,500 people attending
    • over 75 surrounding properties door knocked
    • newsletter to 7,500 local residents
    • postcards to approx 430,000 residences
    • printed copies displayed in 19 local libraries across 13 local government areas, and material translated into 10 languages
  • NorthConnex tunnelling commenced
  • Construction started on Tullamarine Freeway section of the CityLink-Tulla widening project
  • Pacific Highway Upgrade priority 1 project works completed
  • Majura Parkway opened to traffic
  • Gateway WA project completed 12 months ahead of schedule at a cost of $923.2 million
  • 539 applications processed for discretionary aviation and maritime security identification cards
  • 765 transport security compliance activities completed nationally
  • $26.2 million committed to develop a design for rail access at Badgerys Creek airport site
  • An infringement notice trial at the Port of Brisbane and Brisbane Airport conducted

Secretary's Report

It is a pleasure to present the 2015–16 Annual Report for the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and to highlight some of the Department's significant achievements.

Our responsibilities for ensuring safe, secure and efficient transport systems and stronger communities touch the lives of Australians wherever they live, from our most remote territories, to our regional communities and to our nation's major cities. Our infrastructure programs span the breadth of Australia, from ensuring the viability of remote airstrips and local road networks to our country's biggest urban road project, WestConnex in Sydney.

The Department plays a significant role in driving national productivity improvements through our land transport investment program; our regulation of national transport industries; our role in facilitating private investment and expertise to our transport systems; and our leadership in reform of the governance of transport markets.

The Department administers a number of programs which provided approximately $5.4 billion in direct and indirect grants for construction and maintenance of land transport infrastructure, including Roads to Recovery, Black Spot, Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity, and Bridges Renewal Programs, with 4,932 projects completed during the year. The Department played a key role in advising Government about the impacts investment in inland rail infrastructure and services could have on our economic future, with the Government announcing the retention of the Australian Rail Track Corporation for the delivery of inland rail in the coming years. The Department administered the provision of $1.14 billion under the Financial Assistance Grant Program to local government in 2015–16, and facilitated the approval of 162 projects, worth $505.7 million in funding, to regional communities through the National Stronger Regions Fund.

The Department continued to play a key leadership role in reforming the governance of transport infrastructure in partnership with industry and other tiers of government. In January 2016, the Transport and Infrastructure Council published the first editions of registers of heavy vehicle service levels and four-year expenditure plans for key freight route roads. Together with the Council's approval of the Framework for Guiding Private Sector Participation (which allows heavy vehicle operators to directly negotiate and pay for improved heavy vehicle access) this represents substantial progress in delivering reform to the way commercial users of our road network can shape the way that the network is designed and maintained.

The Department also developed Principles for Innovative Funding released by the Australian Government in February 2016, enabling the Government to ensure better value for money, greater sustainability and better urban planning outcomes. During 2015–16, the Department worked in collaboration with Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia to progress the introduction of biometric technology to security schemes in Australia. The Department has worked in close partnership with the NSW Government and undertaken extensive consultation with community and industry stakeholders to progress the development of the Western Sydney Airport, and an associated scoping study of rail needs for western Sydney.

The Department also consulted on northern Australia roads programs in 2015, with three roundtables held with stakeholders from the beef industry, along with state and local governments, to shape the Northern Australia Beef Roads Program.

The Department's administration of the Government's reform agenda for Norfolk Island saw the successful delivery of the first phase of reform this year, with the extension of critical social services and taxation arrangements to that remote Australian community for the first time. In addition to improved services, the Department commenced a significant program of capital upgrades to infrastructure on Norfolk Island. The Department worked in close collaboration with agencies across the Australian Government, with the NSW Government, and in partnership with the local Norfolk Island community on the delivery of this important reform.

Our commitment to evidence-based policy advice has remained fundamental to our achievements. Our environment is changing due to economic and demographic shifts, growing demand for transport and infrastructure and the advent of new technologies. The work of the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has continued to inform the development of policy and advice to the Australian Government. The Bureau's research during the year has provided insights on lengthy commuting, the sustainability of short haul rail operations, cycling safety and trends in congestion costs. The Bureau also led work with state and territory governments to benchmark infrastructure procurement processes and construction costs. The Department updated and expanded the Progress in Australia's Regions series of publications to include a more extensive set of regions, which allows for the measurement of progress at a more detailed level in regional Australia. The Department also coordinated the production of the 2016–17 Regional Ministerial Budget Statement: Investing in Regional Growth, providing a comprehensive overview of Australian Government policies and programs impacting regional Australia.

The Department led the design and delivery of an online version of the national key freight routes map, improving usability of the map's detailed information through a digital, searchable platform similar to ‘Google Maps’. The map was a finalist in the 2015 Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Annual Awards for Excellence in Government Innovation.

The Department continues to work with international infrastructure and transport organisations on international harmonisation and streamlining, including supporting the United Nations development of the International Whole Vehicle Type Approval. This will strengthen the international regime for mutual recognition of approvals and, along with Australia's broader program to harmonise Australian Design Rules with United Nations Regulations, will ensure the latest vehicle technology is available immediately in the Australian market and provide savings to manufacturers and consumers.

Mr Michael Carmody AO replaced Mr Andrew Hughes as the Inspector of Transport Security during the year. In December 2015, Mr Carmody was commissioned by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development to complete an inquiry commenced by the former Inspector. Mr Carmody is expected to submit his findings early in the new year.

It has been a productive year and I am proud to lead an organisation which undertakes the breadth of this work with a high degree of skill, commitment and professionalism. We remain committed to fostering and supporting a high-performing workforce so we can continue to deliver against our outcomes for the benefit of the Australian community.

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Last Updated: 12 December, 2016