Procurement ‘key element’ of national infrastructure plan

posted by Francis Churchill
24 September 2018

Infrastructure procurement will be a “key element” in the sustainable development of Australia, a group of MPs have said.

In a parliamentary report, Building up and Moving Out, the federal Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities has called on government to create a “national plan for settlement” to prepare Australia’s cities for a changing demographic.

As well as outlining a number of infrastructure changes – which include making cities denser, building high-speed rail and other new infrastructure, and monetising infrastructure so it pays for itself – the report said procurement was a “key element in the development of Australia’s cities and regions”.

“Without effective procurement processes, the provision of infrastructure is less likely to meet the economic, social and environmental needs of the Australian people,” the report said. “The evidence presented to the committee highlighted the need to refine infrastructure procurement methods and bring them more closely into line with planning mechanisms.”

This meant aligning procurement with innovation, taking a whole-of-life approach to procurement and engaging with tier two and three contractors, it said. “Innovation in project appraisal is essential to successful urban development [and] individual infrastructure projects should be assessed not only in terms of the cost-benefit ratio, but also in terms of how well it integrates with long-term planning requirements.”

John Alexander, chair of the committee, said a national plan was needed to cope with Australia’s population growth, urbanisation, an ageing demographic and the move towards a service and knowledge based economy.

“Australia’s cities and regions are not sustainable in their current form, and will become less sustainable as the population grows and ages. Achieving the required economic, social and environmental outcomes for the sustainability of our cities and regions will require a high level of integrated planning.

“This is not achievable without the coherent vision which comes from master planning both land use and facilitating infrastructure.”

The report includes 37 recommendations for government, the first of which is that federal government, alongside state and territory governments, should develop a national settlement strategy that provides a development vision for the next 50 years.

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