Infrastructure Australia updates priority projects list

Perth Freight Link still a headline project despite changes

Infrastructure Australia updates priority projects list
IA wants states to do better with their project preparation


Despite years of being bad-mouthed relentlessly by environmentalists and state and federal Labor, Western Australia’s Perth Freight Link (PFL) is an Infrastructure Australia (IA) high priority project.

The project appears in IA’s newly revised Infrastructure Priority List.

The list is made up of 100 major proposals "that Australia needs over the next 15 years to boost our quality of life and grow our economy", chairman Mark Birrell states.

IA expects PFL, one of the nation’s most politically contentious projects,  to deliver economic and social benefits, through reducing delays for port-related traffic and general traffic.

However, it also notes that since the WA government submitted the business case in 2015, it had advised "it is considering alternative route options between the end of the Roe Highway at Stock Road and Fremantle Port".

It came as federal opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese pounced on an admission in a Senate Budget Estimates committee relating to project planning.

"A senior Commonwealth bureaucrat has confirmed no planning has been conducted about how the proposed Perth Freight Link would deliver on its stated purpose of taking traffic to the Fremantle Port," Albanese says.

"Despite both the State and Federal Governments committing billions of dollars in funding for this dud project, current plans have the proposed toll road stopping 3km before the port.

"At a Senate Budget Estimates committee hearing in Canberra this morning Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development official Roland Pittar confirmed his department had seen no proposal concerning how this 3km gap would be bridged via Stage III of the project."

Transport infrastructure added to the next rung down, the priority list, were the Northern Road upgrade and business cases for Bringelly Road upgrade stage 2 and Western Sydney Airport.

Following rigorous assessment by Infrastructure Australia, upgrades to the Cooroy to Curra and Mackay Ring Road sections of the Bruce Highway in Queensland are also now listed as Priority Projects," Birrell says in his chairman’s statement.

"The progressive upgrade of the Bruce Highway has long been recognised by Infrastructure Australia as a national priority, and we look forward to receiving business cases for the remaining sections of the Highway.

"The revised Priority List also includes 82 Initiatives. New High Priority Initiatives include mass transit options for Parramatta to Sydney CBD (NSW) and the remaining sections of Ipswich Motorway Rocklea-Darra (QLD).

"The redevelopment of Sydney’s Central Station (NSW), Brisbane to Gold Coast Transport Corridor Upgrades (QLD) and the Wellington Dam water infrastructure development (WA) are also listed as Priority Initiatives."

Proper planning and comprehensive business cases are the function of state governments and Birrell says they have a way to go to get up to scratch.

"In the past year, we have seen significant improvements in integrated, long-term infrastructure planning and business case development, but there is still much work to do.

"For example, we need to see greater investment in strategic planning and feasibility studies and better definition of infrastructure problems to support rigorous, detailed options analysis. 

"Raising the standard of business cases developed for major projects takes time, but we are committed to working closely with governments, industry and the community to help deliver the best infrastructure outcomes for all Australians."

The full list can be viewed here.

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