Infrastructure Australia urges governments to invest in roads, water, telecoms to protect against natural disasters

This year’s list has $58 billion of possible projects and priorities, including some already under way such as the Western Sydney Airport and the removal of level crossings across suburban Melbourne.

But a string of new proposals has been added, including a national water strategy that would aim to identify current water availability, the condition of existing water infrastructure and possible new sources such as transfers between catchments, and model future demand from the general population and industry.

IA also proposed the creation of a town and city water security plan to ensure major population centres had ongoing access to sustainable water supplies. This could include new demand-management policies.

The agency backed the duplication of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and Lithgow in the NSW Central Tablelands, and a substantial upgrade of the Princes Highway between Nowra on the NSW South Coast and the Victorian border. Both highways were shut down by fires through January, cutting off many communities.

It also supported a wide-ranging upgrade of the way mobile phone towers were protected during fires, noting many communities in Victoria and NSW lost services such as EFTPOS and other financial payment systems. The protection could be as simple as firefighting services knowing the exact location of phone towers and covering them with fire retardant.


In a challenge to the governments of NSW, Victoria and Queensland, the agency said the east coast needed upgraded deep-water ports to deal with the increasing size of container ships.

Sydney can handle ships with a capacity of 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) while Melbourne can handle 8000. However, IA said ships were now moving to 20,000 TEUs.

It said without new deep-water ports or channel deepening around existing ports, Australia would miss out on the potential cost reductions and efficiency gains to be had from the larger container ships plying the world’s oceans.

IA also proposed the creation of a nationwide Indigenous art and cultural facilities program, following suggestions from NSW, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

It said with strong and growing demand from tourists for Indigenous cultural experiences, there was a need for a network of centres that could also deliver an economic boost to many Indigenous communities. 

The agency also backed a proposal from the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria for a cycling “super-highway” into the Melbourne CBD. The 17 strategic cycle corridors would improve cyclist safety and deliver more choice to people moving around Melbourne, according to the RACV’s mobility futures senior planner, Stuart Outhred.

“These priority corridors deserve more than just paint – we want to see high-quality, separate infrastructure that makes everyone feel safe and comfortable when riding,” he said.

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