IA priority list leaves some on outer

Some transport bodies cry foul as Labor states question IA priorities

IA priority list leaves some on outer
South Australian Freight Council executive officer Evan Knapp


Transport and logistics groups have praised the congestion focus of independent infrastructure advisory body Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) new priority list, but some states are feeling left out.

Evan Knapp, the executive officer for transport industry lobby group South Australian Freight Council (SAFC), spoke out against the list, released yesterday, saying IA had failed to evaluate new South Australian projects in a reasonable timeframe.

"Three Infrastructure Priority Lists have come and gone since the ‘South Road – Regency to Pym Upgrade’ project was submitted to Infrastructure Australia - yet it still hasn’t managed to complete the paperwork to approve this urgent project," he says.

"This damages our chances of getting funding approved for this critical upgrade in the impending Commonwealth Budget in May.

"Furthermore, Infrastructure Australia has failed to evaluate several projects put forward by South Australia at all – including the Adelaide Airport Access project, which included a new tram line and new freight access." 

But an IA spokesperson tells ATN that the body went through a "rigorous process" to evaluate business cases for individual projects, requiring project proponents to consider as many monetised and non-monetised economic benefits and costs as possible.

"The time it takes to finalise a business case evaluation depends on a range of factors including the amount of material initially provided by the proponent, the complexity of any clarifying questions Infrastructure Australia may have and the time it takes for proponents to provide Infrastructure Australia with responses to any questions," he says.

"Based on the information we have received to date, the proposals submitted to us have not been included on the Infrastructure Priority List. However, we continue to work with the South Australian Government to provide advice and feedback on their submissions."

Four of the six projects deemed by the group to be "High Priority Projects", for which business cases had been developed, were in New South Wales, with 33 from that state named in the document.

The next highest number of projects on the list was in Queensland, with 15 projects, while Victoria has 13. There are seven each in South Australia and Western Australia, five in Tasmania, three in the Northern Territory and two in the ACT.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was quoted in The Age today saying that Infrastructure Australia's work was "far too focused on Sydney." 

"I do find it a little hard to take them particularly seriosuly when the fastet growing state in our nation is recommended to receeive support for 13 projects," he said.

Queensland deputy premier Jackie Trad made a similar observation, after the Brisbane Metro project was considered a higher priority than the Cross River Rail project - the latter being considered a key priority of the state government.

"It’s not surprising that Infrastructure Australia continues to play to the tune of their political masters," Ms Trad was quoted by news.com.au as saying.

"I think the decision shows as a Queenslander you can’t rely on the Turnbull government."

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