A Labor Government will toughen assessment of proposed major infrastructure projects by requiring the incorporation of smart infrastructure technology and sustainability measures before projects qualify for Commonwealth funding.
Under current arrangements, Infrastructure Australia independently advises the Commonwealth on major projects in terms of their cost-benefits analysis and how they fit with the existing infrastructure mix.
But a Labor Government will broaden Infrastructure Australia’s role. We will add new assessment criteria on smart infrastructure and sustainability to increase value for public money and take genuine action to improve liveability in our major cities.
Smart infrastructure is technology that increases the efficiency of infrastructure.
On roads, for example, modern signalling and traffic monitoring allows for traffic flows to be adjusted according to the time of day, making more lanes accessible during peak time.
This technology increases the efficiency of new roads, but in some cases, smart technology can also make existing roads so efficient there is no need to build new ones.
Under a Labor Government, road project proponents will need to demonstrate they have incorporated smart infrastructure and at least considered the alternative option of using technology to improve existing roads.
This will ensure we squeeze every drop of efficiency out of existing infrastructure and that new projects meet world’s best practice.
Labor’s new sustainability criteria will ensure that government incorporates measures that add to sustainability when they design new roads and railway lines.
For example, when building a new road in a city, we should consider opportunities to build an adjacent bike track or walking track at the same time. This will take more cars off the roads by increasing travel options.
In the same way, it makes sense that when we build new railway lines, stations should include safe storage areas for bicycles to make it easier for people to leave their cars at home.
The sustainability mandate represents genuine action on tackling traffic congestion in urban Australia, which will cost the nation $53 billion by 2031 if we don’t act to tackle it.
These new criteria for projects will be implemented through Infrastructure Australia.