Infrastructure Victoria’s Draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy is an unparalleled body of work in infrastructure planning in Victoria. Below is our summarised submission on 7 key areas we feel Victoria should focus on.
Infrastructure Victoria’s Draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy is an unparalleled body of work in infrastructure planning in Victoria. We applaud the approach taken by Infrastructure Victoria in adopting a long term, evidence based approach and engaging in a public conversation on a diverse range of infrastructure planning issues.
Priority infrastructure projects, policies and reforms will ultimately need to be translated into whole of life cycle priority actions and outcomes. Fundamental shifts in thinking, planning and delivery will be required in coming years. We are therefore very pleased to see that Infrastructure Victoria recognises the need to embrace change. In the words of Albert Einstein, “if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”
We recently provided a submission in response to the Draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy, which focused on seven key areas. You can find our full submission below but here I've summarised our key points.
Cities are under pressure from all angles. Some pressures are easily forecasted while others are more difficult to predict. Balancing the immediate needs of today without compromising the demands of tomorrow is at the heart of sustainability. Our recent Sustainable Cities Index ranked Melbourne 32 globally for sustainability, which will need to be directly addressed in the final 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy.
Address Housing Affordability
It’s no secret that housing affordability is an issue impacting many Australian cities. We believe there is a clear and urgent need to focus on improving housing supply through planned urban revitalization or densification. Ways to address this include ensuring the ‘heavy lifting’ is borne across the inner and middle rings of Melbourne, as well as explicitly recognising the important role that transit corridors and hubs can play in generating socially inclusive urban renewal.
Plan for Mobility
We strongly believe that the integrated development of transit hubs is a key to growing and transforming urban areas. An approach that adopts a people-first basis to planning transit hubs and corridors should be considered in the Strategy. We call this Mobility Orientated Development (MODe). This approach ensures integrated land use planning occurs with the design and development of new transit investment, thereby creating better urban outcomes, more engagement with local communities and wider social as well as economic benefits.
Reduce Congestion and Maximise Benefits
A big problem in Australia is that we’re continuing to pay for crucial infrastructure through out of date schemes like fuel or car taxes that no longer reflect the surge in cars numbers, endemic network congestion in our cities or the rapidly escalating cost of road building. We’re falling behind globally but this Strategy provides an opportunity to address the funding shortfall through a conversation on road pricing including charges based on how far and when people drive, whilst also opening the door to innovative asset management practices.
Recognise Wider Economic Benefits
The Draft Strategy identifies that major projects will be subject to standard business case development. We think this needs to change. To successfully address the overarching needs of the Draft Strategy, we recommend that wider socio-economic benefits are more actively considered in the development and appraisal of new infrastructure projects, to ensure the prioritisation of solutions that are genuinely in the long-term interests of Victorians.
Private Funding Opportunities
Significant funding already exists for infrastructure projects through decentralised and alternative funding models. While accessing private funding will require a different approach (such as performance based delivery models), government should not carry the funding burden alone. Embracing this will require procurement and legislative change. Importantly, private funding can drive innovation, improve city resilience and unlock faster delivery of infrastructure.
A key element for inclusion in the Draft Strategy is the need for legislative and regulatory reform with a particular emphasis on ‘state significant infrastructure’. The current approval processes in place in Victoria are costly, time consuming and have a tendency to overemphasise risk management. A new approach to infrastructure planning must be accompanied by a streamlining of approval processes and removal of red tape.
The Draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy is an unparalleled body of work in infrastructure planning in Victoria. It is wide ranging, strategic and long term. Importantly, it recasts thinking about conventional approaches. The challenge now will be ensuring efficient and effective delivery and implementation of the Strategy’s actions and outcomes. We thank Infrastructure Victoria for the opportunity to make a submission on the Draft Strategy.
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