A REPORT by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) has called for the forthcoming Infrastructure NSW strategy to provide a detailed, ambitious and long-term vision that protects land corridors, prioritises the right projects and maps out a pathway for sustainable growth.
In its submission to Infrastructure NSW, IPA says the State needs to substantially increase the quality, capacity and efficiency of its transport, utilities, social and community infrastructure, by increasing the amount of money it invests and ensuring it invests in the best infrastructure projects to meet social and economic outcomes.
"Achieving a permanent increase in infrastructure investment will require substantial reform to the State's budget; while increasing the quality and value for money achieved from these investments will require a fundamental overhaul of the way projects are conceived, funded, delivered and operated," the report writes.
The report says that over the last decade, there has been a lack of integration and cohesion across government and a lack of progress on the delivery of critical projects as a result of long-term strategic planning and sustained project delivery having been replaced by a series of rapidly changing planning and project priorities.
However, the report believes Infrastructure NSW offers the potential for the State to recapture the vision and ambition contained in past plans, such as the Macquarie (colonial), Bradfield (1923) and Cumberland (1951) plans.
"If Infrastructure NSW gets its plan right, it will be remembered long after the individual projects that it recommends have faded in significance," said IPA Chief Executive, Brendan Lyon, in a media release.
"Infrastructure NSW will look at projects for the next 20 years, but it must look longer-term in protecting land for potential projects, like High Speed Rail, future motorway corridors like the M9 and metro-style mass transit in Sydney and beyond."
My Lyon said that with Sydney's population expected to grow to more than 7.5 million people by 2050, a real and long-term plan that sets aside the future corridors and puts in place a logical sequence of projects is needed to support that growth.
"Infrastructure NSW's strategy is the best opportunity that NSW has to recapture the ambition of Bradfield and the discipline of the Cumberland Scheme and put in place the right strategy for the next 50 years," Mr Lyon said.
The report makes six recommendations, including:
- The long-term infrastructure strategy must be the principal focus of Infrastructure NSW and must look at requirements beyond the 20 year planning horizon to deliver a robust and stable infrastructure programme.
- Once adopted by Cabinet, the agency's five year project pipeline must be an accurate, funded and deliverable programme of investment to provide the community and investors with certainty about when, where and how individual projects will be brought to market. This must include an early indication of the likely procurement model.
- The prioritisation of projects within the strategy and subsidiary pipeline will require the development of a transparent and robust project assessment and prioritisation framework. Both the results and underlying assumptions should be routinely published to allow public scrutiny.
- Infrastructure NSW also has an important role to play in identifying new funding and financing options for infrastructure projects to be considered by Government.
- Infrastructure NSW and the Premier should reserve the power to intervene in project delivery and programme management only for exceptional circumstances – instead, Infrastructure NSW should pass on expertise to procuring agencies, ensuring best practice is embedded within agency delivery structures.
- Infrastructure NSW and NSW Treasury should develop and apply a robust ex post review methodology that encompasses all phases of the project lifecycle. The ex post review process should assess all 'Major Infrastructure Projects' – those of greater than $100 million project value – against initial business case, to continually enhance delivery of future projects by learning from both successes and failures.
Infrastructure NSW was established by the NSW Government in July 2011 to help coordinate and support the delivery of public infrastructure in the State. Chaired by former NSW Premier, Nick Greiner, its tasks include the preparation of a 20 year State Infrastructure Strategy for NSW and detailed 5 year Infrastructure plans.
More information about the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia submission, 'Fixing NSW: A long-term vision for better infrastructure', is available from the IPA website at <http://www.infrastructure.org.au/>.