The newly established Infrastructure Victoria has recently published its first policy papers From the Ground Up – Developing a 30-year infrastructure strategy for Victoria and Laying the Foundations – setting objectives and identifying needs for Victoria's 30-year infrastructure StrategyInfrastructure Victoria predicts the Victorian population to nearly double to 9.4 million by 2045, so, what can we expect from Infrastructure Victoria to support this growth?

Who is Infrastructure Victoria?

The Infrastructure Victoria Act 2015 (Vic) establishes Infrastructure Victoria and aims to introduce a new strategic infrastructure planning process in Victoria.

The recently appointed board, which balances private sector experience (with a focus on financial services) and senior personnel across the key departments, comprises:

  • Jim Miller, ex-Executive Director at Macquarie Capital, who has been appointed as the inaugural Chair of the body;
  • Maria Wilton as Deputy Chair (Ms Wilton is the Managing Director of Franklin Templeton Investments Australia, a director of the Financial Services Council of Australia and the National Breast Cancer Foundation);
  • Professor Margaret Gardener AO, President and Vice Chancellor of Monash University;
  • Ann Sherry AO, former CEO of Westpac New Zealand and Bank of Melbourne;
  • Chris Eccles, Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet;
  • Adam Fennessy, Secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; and
  • David Martine, Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance.

Michel Masson, the ex-CEO of both Keolis Downer and Yarra Trams, commenced the role of CEO on 1 February 2016.

What can we expect from Infrastructure Victoria?

Infrastructure Victoria has been established to provide independent and expert advice in relation to Victoria's current and future infrastructure needs and priorities to support improved social, economic and environmental outcomes for the State.

The main avenues for achieving this objective will be through the publication of a '30-year strategy' and on request, providing the State with written advice in relation to infrastructure matters.  Infrastructure Victoria also has remit to undertake and publish research on matters relating to infrastructure.

Infrastructure Victoria has indicated that it will be taking a 'whole of Victoria perspective' and will be focusing on nine key sectors:

  • Energy;
  • Water (including waste-water) and waste;
  • Transport (including public transport, freight, ports and airports, cycling, walking and roads);
  • Education and training;
  • Health and human services (including social housing);
  • Justice (including courts, police, corrections and emergency services);
  • Culture, civic, sport, recreation and tourism;
  • Science, agriculture and environment; and
  • Information and Communications Technology.

From the Ground Up shows that Infrastructure Victoria will be recommending improving existing assets, over building new ones, and has flagged to the public early that there are funding constraints which mean that there is no way to fund all the infrastructure that Victoria wants – infrastructure planning requires trade offs.  Infrastructure Victoria predicts that climate change will be one of the biggest challenges for Victoria over the next 30 years.

The 30-year strategy

The inaugural 30-year strategy has a submission deadline of 31 December 2016 and must be periodically reviewed and updated.  Infrastructure Victoria has indicated that it will produce three draft papers (a Foundation Paper, an Options Paper and Draft Strategy) prior to publishing the Final Strategy.

Within 12 months of the 30-year strategy being published, the State will have to prepare a response, addressing every recommendation made. The State is also required to produce its own '5-year plan'; identifying 'priority projects' that should be undertaken in the next five years and the rationale for these projects.

What makes Infrastructure Victoria different from the other legislated infrastructure bodies in Australia?

Unlike the established bodies Infrastructure NSWInfrastructure Australia and Building QueenslandInfrastructure Victoria has legislated independence from Ministerial direction, and is required to consult publicly before publishing the 30-year strategy.

We expect this added level of transparency will increase openness and long term investment in the State's infrastructure plans and address some sector's concern regarding the stability and pipeline for major projects in Victoria. The From the Ground Up policy paper indicates that Infrastructure Victoria will undertake three consultation periods before publishing its final 30-year strategy at the end of 2016.

The formal public consultation process has commenced, with the invitation for feedback in relation to the draft objectives of the 30-year strategy, set out in the Laying the Foundations paper, opening on 15 February 2016.

We will keep you abreast of any further announcements when they are made available.