The recently released 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan will focus on the growing infrastructure needs of up-and-coming cities across the country.

Government advisor Infrastructure Australia has laid out a 15-year roadmap that will leverage on the government's $110 billion infrastructure investment and contribute to the efforts towards COVID-19 recovery.

Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said the plan "throws down the gauntlet" to governments on how to plan infrastructure in cities, particularly the growing ones.

"Despite the disruptions of the pandemic, Australia will remain a highly urbanised nation and the infrastructure needs of our cities – big and small – need to be top of mind for governments," he said.

"The recipe is to use infrastructure as the backbone to creating high amenity, high liveability places across our cities."

On top of the recommendations set by the Infrastructure Australia are place-based outcomes for communities. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Deliver globally competitive quality of life in fast-growing cities by growing economies and populations, enabled by place-centric infrastructure investment and reform.
  • Attract growth to smaller cities and regional centres while maintaining quality of life by enhancing local identity, leveraging social infrastructure, and improving digital and economic connectivity to fast-growing cities and neighbouring regions.
  • Support a better quality of life by aligning funding and minimum standards with principles for sustainable infrastructure delivery in small towns, rural communities, and remote areas.

Mr Morrison also commended the suggestions to improve Australia’s resilience and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The infrastructure plan proposes a range of practical measures to encourage buildings to become more energy efficient and make a big contribution to the challenge of reaching net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

Some of the recommendations that highlight the plans to boost sustainability and resilience are the following:

  • Build community resilience to all hazards by considering systemic risks, interdependencies, and vulnerabilities in infrastructure planning and decision-making.
  • Help households and businesses reduce electricity bills by making sure they have the right information and incentives.
  • Transition to a smart, affordable, reliable future grid by implementing regulatory reforms, introducing incentives for customer participation in energy system management and planning cross-sector integration.
  • Transition Australia’s exports and domestic energy demand to high-tech, low-cost, low-emission energy sources through a coordinating national strategy.
  • Secure long-term water supply for urban, rural, environmental, and cultural users by developing a national approach to water security, including independent national ownership.
  • Avoid waste, improve resource recovery, and build demand and markets for recycled products by integrating the circular economy in national waste policy and infrastructure projects.

Infrastructure Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said the plan is being delivered at a critical time and will underscore future Australian economic growth.

“The pandemic, bushfires, drought, floods, and cyber-attacks have tested our collective resilience during recent years, while the most recent outbreaks have devastated our CBDs and put us at risk of a recession,” he said.

Mr Madew said Australia has witnessed substantial investment in the infrastructure sector since the start of the pandemic, but more needs to be done to drive the next phase of the national recovery.

“Infrastructure investment is at record levels across Australia, demonstrated by the Australian government’s historic $110 billion infrastructure commitment.

“We need to pursue reforms that unlock the full benefits of stimulus spending.”