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Australian News Update August 2019

Posted by: Paul Harris
Industry News

Calls for further investment in Sydney infrastructure

Governments have been urged to invest more funds into transport project spending, Australia's infrastructure advisory body has warned. 

Infrastructure Australia (IA) said transport services were coming under "unprecedented" pressure and the current boom in construction projects needed to become the "new normal" to keep pace with population growth and changing consumer demands.

"The current infrastructure program must do more than plug the immediate funding gap," Infrastructure Australia's CEO Romilly Madew said in an audit of the nation's transport, telecommunications, water, energy and social infrastructure needs over the next 15 years.

"It needs to deliver long-term changes in the way we plan, fund and deliver infrastructure. This must be the new normal if we are to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead."

Madew said $123 billion worth of construction work had begun since IA's last audit in 2015, with more than $200 billion worth of commitments now in the pipeline.

However, the report found congestion on roads and public transport networks was rising, despite significant investments in Sydney in particular, and the cost to the economy could grow from $19 billion a year in 2016 to nearly $39 billion by 2031 without further spending.

The most congested road by 2031 in Sydney would be the four kilometre stretch between North Sydney and the city centre via the Harbour Tunnel. The agency estimated 84% of the run effectively would be spent sitting still, with the delay put at 19 minutes. Other heavily congested roads would include the run between Mount Druitt and Westmead on the M4, the M5 between Liverpool and Sydney Airport and Ashfield into the CBD via the Anzac Bridge.

The report said: "Despite their scale, recent investments in transport infrastructure in our fast-growing cities is largely playing 'catch-up' rather than providing additional capacity that will support substantial future growth.”

The report found Australia's population was becoming increasingly urbanised, with more Australians moving to inner city areas and 60% now living in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth.

Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Population, Alan Tudge, said there was no doubt congestion was an issue in capital cities.

"While the congestion modelling does not take into account our recent significant infrastructure and population measures, it does highlight the importance of continuing our congestion busting program,” he said.

Shadow Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said it was a reminder of the pressures facing the system, arguing the government was not doing enough to address them: "At this critical time when economic growth is the slowest it has been in 10 years, wages are stagnant, and living standards are going backwards, Australians are demanding the Morrison Government produce a real plan for infrastructure," she said.

Skills and labour shortages also created extra challenges, according to IA's executive director of Policy and Research, Peter Colacino. "We have a shortage of self-certifying engineers, senior engineers, the surveying industry's identified shortages, the rail industry, tunnelling and signalling, electricity linesman," he said. Full story.


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