21/07/2021 - 15:15

WA unveils draft infrastructure strategy

21/07/2021 - 15:15

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Improving asset management and planning for an Aboriginal cultural centre are among prominent recommendations made in WA's inaugural infrastructure strategy document.

WA unveils draft infrastructure strategy
Mark McGowan says the state government will respond to each of the strategy's recommendations. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Improving asset management and planning for an Aboriginal cultural centre are among prominent recommendations in Western Australia's inaugural infrastructure strategy document.

Those recommendations, contained in Infrastructure WA's “Foundations for a Stronger Tomorrow” document released this afternoon, are just a few of the 88 made in the draft, 20-year strategy.

That document outlines a vision for WA in which the population swells to 4.3 million, net carbon emissions are reduced significantly through carbon capture technology and public transport receives record patronage by 2042.

Infrastructure WA conducted multiple workshops, received more than 800 responses to its discussion paper and held more than 100 meetings with government stakeholders prior to formulating its recommendations.

Most of those made focus on non-build opportunities, including early intervention to alleviate demand on police, courts and hospitals and improving use of existing assets through optimisation.

That’s in addition to cohesive strategies across the public sector, including creation of an urban consolidation action plan, widespread implementation of a 2050 net zero emissions target and improved data sharing across state government agencies.

Many of these recommendations focus on issues that can be addressed in the next five years, with priority projects to be identified throughout the next 10 years.

And while much of the document does not directly recommend projects, about a quarter pertain to planning for possible new builds, with construction of a river tunnel crossing at Stock Road, fast rail to Bunbury and a light rail system for Perth among them.

Planning for an Aboriginal cultural centre is also recommended for further consideration, as part of opportunities to promote and leverage Aboriginal cultural heritage and enterprise.

Premier Mark McGowan said it was encouraging to see Infrastructure WA endorse aspects of the state government’s existing infrastructure program, while adding that the recommendations made were not binding.

“The government will consider the final strategy and provide a response to each of the recommendations as required by the legislation,” he said.

“This strategy will help grow our great state as it continues to mature as a world class destination, and a vibrant and attractive place to live, invest, study and visit.”

Infrastructure WA’s document will undergo a final review before submission to the premier’s office towards the end of the year.

If accepted, it will then tabled in state parliament, with the state government to outline its response to all recommendations.

Agencies will then receive those responses, with Infrastructure WA to provide annual progress reviews of whether its recommendations have been appropriately implemented.

John Langoulant, who has chaired the agency since 2019, thanked those who contributed to the report and recommended all Western Australians read the draft strategy.

Industry response

Property Council of Australia WA Division, which hosted the document's launch this afternoon, and the Urban Development Institute of Australia WA were among industry bodies to welcome today's announcement.

Sandra Brewer, who serves as executive director of Property Council's state division, said it was a chance to get WA's infrastructure planning right.

"The strategy provides a comprehensive long-term vision for the delivery of infrastructure ensuring we are well-prepared to grow as a global destination," she said.

"A clear growth plan is necessary to give the business community the confidence it needs to invest and Western Australians the assurance that we are heading in a strong, sustainable direction.

"It is critical to the success of the WA economy that there is a long-term vision and commitment to delivering core infrastructure like housing, regional infrastructure and a modern transport system in a way that is sustainable and recognises the rich cultural heritage of the state.

"We are pleased to see clear pathways for the private sector’s contribution and partnership throughout the strategy."

Tanya Steinbeck, chief executive of UDIA WA, called the document a positive step towards a more coordinated and strategic rollout of infrastructure in WA.

She also welcomed provisions for social and affordable housing as critical infrastructure.

"We need to ensure that there is adequate supply of housing across the housing continuum, from social housing through to home ownership," Ms Steinbeck said.

"The key will be better understanding the state government's asset base, unlocking and leveraging land that is in the state's hands whilst working with the private sector to do so. 

“Historically, infrastructure funding and prioritization has often been caught up in political cycles, without a coordinated and future-focused approach based on solid population growth forecasts and alignment with land use planning frameworks.

“A forward-looking strategy such as this one, will hopefully remove some of the politics and ensure more certainty around infrastructure delivery so that we can plan more effectively for future housing supply and understand our changing populations needs over time with confidence."

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA chief executive Chris Rodwell welcomed initiatives that would support economic diversification and accelerate private investment.

"The consultation between the business community and Infrastructure Western Australia on this draft strategy has been close and productive," he said.

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