Last month Infrastructure Australia released its infrastructure Priority List for 2021, revealing a record number of new investment opportunities, with 44 new proposals added to the list in response to COVID-19. A $59 billion project pipeline was identified, with six high priority projects, 17 priority projects, 48 high project initiatives and 109 priority initiatives.
For the first time, the list focused on renewables at a national level, increasing renewable energy generation and firming generation for energy network security. Priorities have also shifted to accommodate for regional infrastructure projects including enabling digital health services in regional areas.
The 2021 Priority List sees a shift to focus on developing more inclusive infrastructure a move welcomed by the Global Infrastructure Hub having developed inclusive infrastructure tools and frameworks for practitioners to utilise, to create more inclusive infrastructure projects. The Priority List sees a much-needed focus on regional communities, to support the increase in population in regional towns as we have seen in Australia a migration pattern emerge of people moving from capital areas to regional areas, partly due to COVID-19.
Romilly Madew, Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive has stressed the importance of robust, evidence-based investment in the 2021 Priority List.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way Australians use critical infrastructure. We have seen changing work patterns, a pause on Net Overseas Migration, and a 200% increase in people moving from capital areas to regional areas. These changes present a range of new challenges and the Priority List looks to identify infrastructure investments that will meet the diverse needs of our communities in this new environment,” Ms Madew said.
The key themes of the 2021 Priority List are:
• Opportunities to develop export gateways to support Australia’s international competitiveness
• Investment in new sources of energy and enabling infrastructure for hydrogen exports
• Driving economic development in regional communities and improving digital connectivity
• Investment to support digital health services in regional and remote Australia
• Addressing challenges around strategic planning for water capture, use and management.
The Priority List provides the Australian government with a roadmap of investment opportunities across a broad spectrum of areas including transport, energy, water, waste, telecommunications and social infrastructure.
The Priority List is a collaborative document that draws on independent research conducted by Infrastructure Australia, the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit and Infrastructure Beyond COVID-19 report, as well as submissions from state and territory governments, industry and the community.
The Global Infrastructure Hub welcomes the 2021 Priority List and its efforts to create more resilient, inclusive and sustainable infrastructure through an evidence-based framework approach.