Australia needs to refocus its infrastructure pipeline if it is to stage an infrastructure-led recovery from COVID-19, according to a report from Allens.
The report, which draws on findings from the firm’s second annual Infrastructure Leaders Survey, shows Australia’s current infrastructure pipeline is out of step with what’s required for long-term social and economic prosperity.
According to the report, social infrastructure, community infrastructure, affordable housing and renewable energy will deliver the greatest benefits to society and the economy. However, just two per cent of Australia’s infrastructure pipeline is weighted towards social infrastructure, while 74 per cent is comprised of transport projects.
‘Government and industry must work together to balance the sugar hit of short-term, shovel-ready projects with Australia’s longer-term vision and needs,’ said lead author and Allens’ Head of Infrastructure, David Donnelly.
Changing behaviours and attitudes accelerated by COVID-19 also mean the assumptions on which the pipeline is based need updating. According to the survey, 80 per cent of infrastructure leaders surveyed see transport infrastructure projects as highly exposed to changing demand and use profiles. Ninety-five per cent of respondents identify working from home as one of the top three influences on future development priorities.
‘Now is the time for governments to come together with communities and industry leaders and align around a shared vision of Australia for the next five, 10, 20 years and beyond,’ David said.
‘This means thinking about what is needed now to kickstart the economy, but also what will be most beneficial for Australia in the longer term, like delivering better environmental outcomes, alleviating cost of living pressures, creating regional jobs and providing broader social and community benefits.’