On the same day as Infrastructure Australia (IA) released it decision making principles, WRF was dealing with member complaints that they were averaging less than 10 kph on a freight route due to road deterioration.
Well if you live in the Capital Cities in marginal electorates you should be delighted with Infrastructure Australia’s recently released decision making principles.
On face value the principles look sound but apply a basic application test and you realise quickly it fails regional and remote Australia. And it fails at the first step:
[EXTRACT Step ONE: ] Governments should quantify infrastructure problems and opportunities as part of long-term planning processes.
Plans should include analysis of the performance and service levels of existing networks under a range of future scenarios. Plans should also account for interdependencies with other infrastructure, changes in technology, market and regulatory developments that are likely to impact infrastructure services over the coming decades. [end extract]
Sounds fair, but think about this in order to quantify the problem a Government needs to allocate a priority and resources to it. Regardless of the party in power, if the problem is in a marginal seat or multi-seat area (ie a Capital City) it will get the priority and resources from the supporting department. That means that yet again remote and regional infrastructure problems will not be given the priority nor resources to quantify the problem.
Infrastructure Australia Disconnected
The inherent disconnect Infrastructure Australia has from the reality of remote and regional Australia is disturbing. In a recent conversation they told myself and my NT counterpart that two remote regional local governments should gather the evidence and develop the business case to prove their need for a major potential freight route.
These are NOT city councils, they are small population areas shires with vast land masses but who are important potential links in secondary freight networks. Asking them to gather the evidence and develop the business case is simply ridiculous. Aside from the lack of resources to do that they also have to compete to against the more richly resourced and prioritised state department projects.
Infrastructure Australia has failed Remote and Regional Australia.
It is time to seriously re-consider the relevance IA beyond the capital cities.
May be it is time to consider a funded body that can assist remote and regional councils to prepare and market business cases. Such an organisation needs to be removed entirely from IA. This new organisation should also look to the economic business development principals that the United Nations applies to 3rd world projects, where consideration is given to unlocking suppressed economic activity.
NT Road Transport Association and WRF are well developed on a plan to address remote and regional roads funding issues, we need to do this as our road transport members are forced to pay higher maintenance costs due to poor roads, face higher safety risks due to poor roads and rest area infrastructure, face lower productivity opportunities due to poor infrastructure and it goes on………….