At the end of February, the federal government’s independent infrastructure advisor, Infrastructure Australia, launched its annual priority list for the year; a list designed to inform the government’s infrastructure investment decisions. These decisions have been based on what they believe is needed to support Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19 while continuing to address environmental hurdles such as drought and bushfires.
More specifically, the infrastructure investment proposals had to have an estimated $30 million impact on the economy per year to be considered imperative to the country’s national recovery to be included on the list. As of the 1st of March, this list included a total of 180 projects and represented $59 billion worth of nationally significant investment opportunities believed to have societal, economic and environmental significance. Since August, when Infrastructure Australia released a mid-year update to the list for the first time ever - a record 44 new proposals were added to the Priority List.
Furthermore, 10 projects have already been moved off the priority list and into the construction phase, notedly the M4 Motorway Upgrade in New South Wales, the METRONET More-Ellenbrook Line in Western Australia and sections of the Bruce Highway and M1 Pacific Motorway in Queensland.
The infrastructure priority list covers a broad spectrum of transport, energy, water, waste, telecommunications, and social infrastructure, all in the effort of “guiding Australia’s economic recovery and improving quality of life for local communities as we continue to absorb and respond to the shocks of COVID-19,” according to Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew.
Within the 2021 edition of the priority list, there have been 6 high priority projects identified, 17 priority projects, 48 high priority initiatives and 109 priority initiatives. Some of the most significant in relation to the construction, property and engineering industry - particularly along Australia’s eastern seaboard- are as follows:
The Newell Highway upgrade, Parkes Bypass (NSW): The upgrade to the Bypass will improve connectivity, road transport efficiency and safety for local and interstate motorists.
Prospect Highway Upgrade (NSW): The upgrade of 3.6 kilometres of Prospect Highway between Reservoir Road, Prospect and St Martins Crescent, Blacktown aims to ease congestion and delays for over 35,000 vehicles that use the major roadway each day, as well as improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Upgrade (ACT): The upgrade will help to extend the life of a critical component of the transport network of Canberra and the ACT overall, by another 50 years.
High Priority Initiatives:
Renewable Energy Zone expansions (National): the launch of new grid-scale renewable energy generators to replace retiring thermal generation facilities – almost all of which are coal-fired power stations.
Enabling Digital Health Services for Regional and Remote Australia (National): the upgrade of current telecommunications infrastructure and the building of new infrastructure in regional areas to enable the transmission of data and video to health facilities in regional Australia.
Social Housing Program (NSW): increasing the availability of social housing in NSW through addressing the maintenance of existing housing stock, renewing life-expired housing stock and developing new housing stock.
The Parramatta Outer Ring Road Capacity (NSW): alleviate the congestion on Paramatta Outer Ring Road which surround the Parramatta CBD through designing and building bus network improvements and improving or removing intersections.
Western Sydney Freight Line and Intermodal Terminal (NSW): currently, there is no freight rail serving the Western Sydney Employment Area, which is located close to the new Western International Airport. Without a freight rail link, this area (one of Sydney’s fastest-growing) will have to rely on road freight to transport goods to and from Port Botany. The Infrastructure Australia initiative aims to build high-capacity freight connections and potential intermodal facilities to improve freight connectivity, reduce growth in truck movements and delays to freight trains on the main Western Line.
South East Queensland Level Crossings Congestion and Safety (QLD): a network-wide program to identify, prioritise and treat level crossings in South East Queensland to improve the efficiency, safety and amenity across the 65 level crossings in South East Queensland.
Enabling Infrastructure for Hydrogen Exports (National): a national Hydrogen Infrastructure Assessment is being coordinated by the Australian Government which will examine supply chain needs. The assessment will look at initiatives like new infrastructure being built for electricity and gas networks, water supply networks, refuelling stations, roads and rail ports to help Australia become a large hydrogen export.
Melbourne to Adelaide Freight Rail Improvements (National): currently the Melbourne to Adelaide freight corridor cannot carry double-stacked containers, which impacts on freight rail between Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. It also increases the costs for operators. To address the issues, Infrastructure Australia is looking to remove or adjust structures that impact on the clearance to enable the double stacking of containers.
Outback Way Road Access (National): improvements to the condition and resilience of the 2,700 kilometre-long road which acts as the only direct route that connects Western Australia to Queensland and is an important piece of national transport infrastructure.
Broadmeadow precinct regeneration (NSW): proposing to redevelop the existing sports and entertainment precinct five km from Newcastle CBD, in order to stimulate growth and change in surrounding centres and residential areas.
Heathcote Road Capacity and Safety (NSW): proposing to upgrade capacity and safety of the 24.5km arterial road connection between the M5 Motorway and A1 Princes Highway, which is forecasted to experience an increase of traffic of over 30% by 2031.
M1 Pacific Motorway (NSW): these upgrades will focus on improving the connectivity to Byron Bay and improve the Byron Bay interchange capacity.
Mount Ousley Interchange (NSW): aims to improve the high-volume of traffic on the Mount Ousley section of the M1 Princes Motorway and reduce significant congestion during peak periods by adding new service roads, adding and relocating on-ramps and off-ramps and new interchange configurations.
Newcastle Airport Capacity Expansion (NSW): expand the terminal and runway of Newcastle’s airport capacity which would mean the airport could expand the flight range from Oceania to the Middle East and the Americas.
Rail access to Webb Dock (VIC): the construction of new rail connections or reinstating the previously decommissioned rail corridor, in order to reduce the congestion of freight carriers on the road. These initiatives will aim to support container growth and maintain freight efficiency.
Cairns Western Arterial Road Capacity (QLD): proposes to upgrade intersections, existing road and improve transport options to a key strategic corridor in the Queensland Government’s Far North Queensland Region.
Ipswich to Springfield transport capacity (QLD): enhancing the existing road and bus network and increasing bus service frequency and coverage to accommodate the rapid population growth happening in Ipswich and increasing demand on the corridor to Springfield – a nearby major activity centre.
It will be exciting to see how and which of these proposed initiatives will come to fruition over the next six months and the jobs they’ll be able to support within the construction, engineering and property space. To ensure you can keep abreast of the latest opportunities in the wake of these infrastructure developments, or reach out to our team of consultants for a confidential chat about the job market generally, you can contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
To see the full Infrastructure Priority List for 2021, click here
 Infrastructure Australia (February 26, 2021). Infrastructure Australia Adds A Record Number Of New Investment Opportunities To Support COVID-19 Recovery. Infrastructure Australia. https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/listing/media-release/infrastructure-australia-adds-record-number-new-investment-opportunities-support-covid-19-recovery
 Government News (March 1, 2021). New Projects Added To Infrastructure Priority List. Government News. https://www.governmentnews.com.au/new-projects-added-to-infrastructure-priority-list/
 Imogen Hartmann (February 26, 2021). The 2021 Infrastructure Priority List Has Been Released. Infrastructure Magazine. https://infrastructuremagazine.com.au/2021/02/26/the-2021-infrastructure-priority-list-has-been-released/