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IPW: Infrastructure Australia under review, and UK IPA publishes pipeline ratings

02 August 2022

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, Australia’s new government has launched a review of its independent infrastructure advisory body, and the UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority publishes the latest major project delivery rating.  

IPW: Infrastructure Australia under review, and UK IPA publishes pipeline ratings
Australia's new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese established the leading Infrastructure Australia advisory body in 2008. Image credit: Shutterstock/Shag7799

Infrastructure Australia's remit under review by government

The newly elected Australian federal government has moved quickly to set up an independent review of Infrastructure Australia (IA) in line with its election promises.

IA is an independent infrastructure advisory body that ensures Australia has a strong pipeline of infrastructure system interventions and projects matched against national priorities.

Established in 2008 by Anthony Albanese (then Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, now Prime Minister), IA was a pioneering innovation in infrastructure policy.

Similar bodies have since been developed at the state level in Australia and around the world, including the UK's National Infrastructure Commission and New Zealand Infrastructure Commission.

A review in 2014 strengthened IA by putting it on a statutory footing, giving it an independent board and CEO.

The latest review, led by the chair of Infrastructure Western Australia, will:

  • consider IA's role as an independent advisor to the Commonwealth on nationally significant infrastructure priorities and advise on what changes may be needed to IA's focus, priorities and - if necessary - legislation.
  • ensure that IA is positioned to achieve its core purpose—to provide quality, independent advice to the Commonwealth on nationally significant infrastructure that supports the economy, builds the nation and addresses future needs.

Review questions explore IA's role, effectiveness, governance, other functions and the future investment challenge for Australia.

The review will be handed to the minister for infrastructure, transport, regional development and local government to take forward.

ICE’s view

Infrastructure Australia has been the blueprint for many other countries looking to improve the strategic planning and prioritisation of their infrastructure systems.

Reviews of these bodies are healthy to ensure they have the functions to match the ever-changing requirements of infrastructure policy making.

The UK's National Infrastructure Commission was subject to such a review last year by HM Treasury, and ICE led its own review into the wider UK strategic infrastructure planning system.

Our Enabling Better Infrastructure report in 2019 outlined 12 guiding principles on strengthening infrastructure planning and prioritisation.

It featured a deep-dive case study on IA as an exemplar for others, looking at its work and impact.

Since 2019, IA has continued to be leading-edge.

Its recent work has looked at improving infrastructure delivery, embedding climate resilience in infrastructure planning, and looking at changes in regional infrastructure requirements.

As part of the renewal of the Enabling Better Infrastructure programme, we’ll be working with policymakers and governments worldwide to accelerate lesson learning on best practice in strategic infrastructure planning and prioritisation.

We’ll also be exploring what countries can teach others and what they can learn.

IPA publishes 2022 annual update on the delivery of major UK projects

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) has published its yearly update to the Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP).

This is a list of 235 projects with a total whole-life cost of £678bn and £726bn of monetised benefits.

Within the GMPP, 'infrastructure and construction' accounts for 70 projects, with a total whole-life cost of £339bn (half of the GMPP) and monetised benefits of £356bn.

IPA's annual reports on the GMPP include transparency data on the progress of major projects, including a Red-Amber-Green (RAG) rating based on delivery confidence.

This assessment reflects a project's “likelihood of success at a specific snapshot in time if issues and risks are left unaddressed”.

Project ratings

Most projects are rated amber (51) within ‘infrastructure and construction', with 10 rated green and 6 red (3 projects are exempt from a rating).

Since the 2021 annual report, 10 'infrastructure and construction’ projects have left the GMPP.

Four projects left due to the project being stopped or brought to an early closure.

One was replaced by another GMPP project.

Five left due to successful delivery against objectives. For example, the South West Route Capacity Programme left the GMPP on time and on budget.

Wider work on improving project delivery

The annual report also outlines some of the wider work IPA does to improve project delivery.

Measures include:

  • getting more project leaders to attend the Major Projects Leadership Academy.
  • establishing the new Government Project Delivery Framework.
  • launching the Transforming Infrastructure Performance Roadmap to 2030.
  • driving implementation of the Construction Playbook across government.
  • continuing to deliver the PFI Contract Management Programme to support the management of risks in operational PFI projects.

ICE’s view

The IPA plays a critical role in ensuring projects are set up for success and delivered effectively across government, and this annual report provides transparency on progress.

IPA’s approaches are also exported around the world and used by other countries.

The ICE works closely with the IPA to embed principles across infrastructure, using the breadth of our membership.

For example, earlier this year, we collaborated on TIP Live, a series of events over this year to improve industry understanding of the Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) programme.

We also regularly look at progress on the implementation of key policy changes, such as the Construction Playbook.

In case you missed it...

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of the ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch.

You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • Chris Richards, director of policy at Institution of Civil Engineers