Regional development emerged as a key focus of the 2021 Infrastructure Priority List released by Infrastructure Australia in February. More than half of the record 44 proposals added to the priority list will benefit regional communities, reflecting Infrastructure Australia’s focus on driving economic development, improving digital connectivity and supporting digital health services in regional Australia.
The 2021 list amounts to a $59 billion project pipeline featuring six High Priority Projects, 17 Priority Projects, 48 High Priority Initiatives and 109 Priority Initiatives across transport, energy, water, waste, telecommunications and social infrastructure.
Regional Priority Projects added to the list include the Parkes Bypass in NSW to improve connectivity between Melbourne and Brisbane, the Bunbury Outer Ring Road in WA to increase the state’s regional freight network capacity, and the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Upgrade in the ACT, part of the renewal of transport infrastructure in Canberra.
Among new High Priority Initiatives set to benefit regional communities are Adelaide’s Outer Ring Route capacity, South Australian road network maintenance and South East Queensland level crossings congestion and safety.
Projects slated for the fast-growing cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth include the Western Sydney Freight Line and Intermodal Terminal, Armadale Road Bridge in Perth and an upgrade of Prospect Highway between Reservoir Road and St Martins Crescent in Western Sydney.
The list also identifies an opportunity to invest in foundational digital infrastructure to enable the development of smart technologies in Western Parkland City, one of Greater Sydney’s three cities, as a High Priority Initiative. The proposed initiative includes the construction of technological infrastructure such as 5G and 6G antennas, public Wi-Fi networks and sensor networks to support smart street furniture, smart poles that provide mobile internet access, street lighting and security cameras, and a high-capacity telecommunications transmission network.
Other key themes to emerge from the list include:
- The development of export gateways;
- Investment in new sources of energy and infrastructure to enable hydrogen exports;
- Water capture, use and management.
“The 2021 Infrastructure Priority List is a comprehensive overview of nationally significant infrastructure needs, providing an investment roadmap to guide Australia’s economic recovery and improve quality of life as we continue to absorb and respond to the shocks of COVID-19,” says Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way Australians use critical infrastructure. We have seen changing work patterns, a pause on Net Overseas Migration, and a 200 per cent increase in people moving from capital areas to regional areas. These changes present a range of new challenges, and the Priority List looks to identify infrastructure investments that will meet the diverse needs of our communities in this new environment.”
Ten projects left the list as they entered the construction phase, including the upgrades to the M4 Motorway in NSW and sections of the M1 Pacific Motorway and Bruce Highway in Queensland and the METRONET Morley-Ellenbrook Line in WA.
Read the full list here.