Infrastructure development lagging behind population growth is a threat to Australia’s economic future

infrastructure australiaThe main threat to Australia’s economic future is population growth outpacing infrastructure development, says Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell.

Australia will not be able to capitalise on the economic benefits of population growth without long-term infrastructure planning, he told the Committee for Economic

Development of Australia (CEDA) at an event in Sydney.

“Considered and well thought through infrastructure investment is going to be one of the most effective ways for us to achieve and deliver the qualities we want out of our economic growth,” he added.

Not acting would prove particularly costly given the increased infrastructure demands associated with population growth.

By 2031 the Australian population is expected to increase to over 30 million people from its current figure of 23.5 million, while congestion will come to cost $53.3 billion nationally and demand for public transport will double.

With Australian population growth outpacing that of the US, UK and Canada, the challenge is particularly great though it also provides much opportunity for economic growth in parallel, Birrell said.

“I think the population challenge we face is a good one and there’d be many nations from Japan through to France who’d like to have a population growth issue”. To read more at the International Business Times click here.

Preparing for growth in Australia’s cities and regions

Media Release

Investment in urban and regional infrastructure will be better informed with the release of the Progress in Australian Regions—State of Regional Australia 2015 and State of Australian Cities 2014-15 publications today.

The publications provide an understanding of the nation’s overall economic and social wellbeing.

The economic output of our major cities has grown and their national importance remains extremely high, although mining activity in regional Australia has seen the overall percentage contribution by major cities to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dip slightly. [Page 1, State of the Cities 2014-15].

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the release of both reports provides a deeper, more complete picture of the population, employment, economic and transport trends that are occurring across Australia.

“Building the infrastructure Australia needs for the future is best informed by a thorough understanding of the challenges ahead, and these publications will provide vital information for infrastructure planners and communities,” Mr Truss said.

“The Australian Government released both the State of Australian Cities and State of Regional Australia reports concurrently to provide a nationwide view of Australia’s progress.”

Mr Truss said the release of the publications recognised the interrelated nature of cities and their surrounding regions.

“State of Australian Cities 2014-15 is an important tool for all levels of government in understanding where our cities are performing well and where there are opportunities for improvement,” he said.

“While there is no doubt our cities are vitally important for the nation’s prosperity they cannot be considered in isolation from their surrounding regions.

“The Progress in Australia’s Regions—State of Regional Australia 2015 report illustrates the different ways that regions change and takes into account aspects like population growth, economic wellbeing and social progress.

“This report shows that infrastructure continues to support the economies of regional Australian by promoting the efficient flow of people and resources while also providing regional Australians with access to essential services such as education and health.

“In December 2014, my Department released the Progress in Australian Regions—Yearbook 2014 to provide a statistical resource that can help answer the question of how regions are progressing against economic, social, environmental and governance indicators.

“This publication will enable governments, private investors and the community to identify trends that are important for policy development and investment decisions.

“The Government will continue to provide detailed analysis of the challenges facing the nation—inclusive of regional Australia.”

Mr Truss said the Australian Government had been investing widely in urban and regional infrastructure since being elected.

“Our commitment to delivering national prosperity begins with delivering the infrastructure Australia needs, and we have embarked on a nationwide programme of investment to achieve this end,” he said.

“Commitments such as the $8.5 billion upgrade of the Bruce Highway and the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing—the largest commitment to a single regional road project in Queensland’s history—will support the continued movement of goods to domestic and international markets.

“Likewise, the Perth Freight Link will create a new world class freight connection between the Roe Highway and the Fremantle Port, and we are expecting a business case and delivery plan for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project soon.

“The announcement of Badgerys Creek as the preferred site for Western Sydney’s airport is a significant commitment, and we are investing $2.9 billion towards key road upgrades to support the region through the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan.

“The $5 billion Asset Recycling Initiative is helping states build major urban public transport projects, such as the Second Harbour Rail Crossing in Sydney.

“When projects like these are combined with our other initiatives such as the Black Spot, Bridges Renewal and Roads to Recovery programmes—with Roads to Recovery receiving over $1.1 billion in extra funding in the past fortnight—Australia’s infrastructure future looks very promising indeed.”

The publications can be found online at: and

Australian Regional Development Conference (ARDC)
26 – 28 August 2015 | Albury, New South Wales

Conference sponsored by La Trobe University, The Regional Development Company, Vertel, EJ Australia, REMPLAN, .id the population experts and the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc.


David Gilbert from Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd to present on Govt policy challenges for rural water infrastructure service providers

David Gilbert, Executive Manager, Planning at Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

The Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation.

David Gilbert

David Gilbert

Presenter Introduction: Dave commenced in 2008 and was appointed as Executive Manager Planning in March 2014, responsible for corporate and water resource planning, asset management and regulatory compliance functions. He has previously been responsible for delivery of major capital infrastructure projects.

Dave is an electrical engineer who has held management roles in the electricity supply industry and also within the Australian public service that has included implementation of the National Electricity Market, administration of Australia’s export controls and defence-related research projects.

Presentation Title:
Government policy challenges for rural water infrastructure service providers

Co-Author: Karen Hutchinson, Customer Services Manager, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd

Overview: Government water policy objectives typically seek to optimise economic, social and environmental outcomes, including from the sustainable use of available water resources and the promotion of efficient investment in water delivery infrastructure.

In establishing irrigation areas like the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA), which is located in located in the Murray-Darling Basin, the NSW Government undertook an enormous development effort that involved an entirely new agricultural enterprise for the state. This was supported by government efforts to divert the water resources of the Snowy Mountains as a means of supplementing the flow of the great inland rivers for irrigation to increase agricultural production and as a means for developing hydro-electric power.

Initial production within the MIA centred on horticulture, dairy and other pasture enterprises which led to the rapid expansion of the irrigation area into a diverse and highly productive agricultural region, rich in bird life and wetland habitats. The sustainability of the MIA, and other irrigation areas, is of local, state and national significance with the gross value of farm production, contributing to significant levels of regional value adding, and employment opportunities that underpin the regional community.

Government water reform efforts are focussed on the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to respond to threats to ecosystem health and sustainability in the Basin. This includes irrigation modernisation, environmental works and measures, and water purchasing. Investment in infrastructure and irrigation efficiency projects is expected to assist irrigation communities adjust to a future of reduced water availability and become more resilient to change. However, evaluation and reporting on the effects of these water reforms on communities and the environment continues to mature before flow-on effects will become apparent and unintended consequences emerge.

A number of indicators of the social and economic impact of the Basin Plan have been used to identify how irrigation communities are adjusting to less water, including on agricultural production and other local industries, community health and wellbeing, and wider social and cultural impacts.

Communities across the Basin are coping with water reform efforts differently. This paper includes preliminary assessments of water reform impacts from investment in irrigation infrastructure across the MIA, including on the productive capacity of the region.

To view and/or download the Australian Regional Development Conference program, visit the website here.

Max Eastcott General Manager of Gwydir Shire Council to present on funding local roads


Max Eastcott

Max Eastcott

Max Eastcott General Manager of Gwydir Shire Council  will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Presentation Title:   An Innovative approach to local road funding

Presentation Overview:  The Australian Rural Roads Group Inc. (ARRG) signed an agreement on Australia Day 2014 with Infrastructure Australia, which is known as the Bingara Accord.


The Accord stated that:

The parties agree:

  1. to seek to bring roads into line with the mainstream practices of Australia’s infrastructure sectors;
  2. to employ user pays-user says trials for road improvements to test this approach;
  3. that the Australian Rural Roads Group asset and investment template is appropriate for local roads throughout regional Australia;
  4. that submissions should be made to include suitably aggregated proposals in Infrastructure Australia’s national infrastructure audit and infrastructure priorities list.

As a result of this Accord five North West NSW Councils known as the North-West Network (Gwydir, Moree Plains, Gunnedah, Warrumbungle and Narrabri Shire Councils) commissioned a report to submit to Infrastructure Australia that detailed how additional Federal Government funding for rural local roads could be justified as economically responsible based upon productivity improvement outcomes.

The North-West Network is a road investment and sustainability program designed for a 57,000 square kilometre agricultural powerhouse region of north-western New South Wales. It has two main features:

  • Road productivity and
  • Roads sustainability

The network – over 12,000 kilometres of roads – has little opportunity to secure major new capital funds from governments in the prevailing fiscal climate. Yet at the same time, the public sector roads ‘system’ does not offer significant avenues for productivity-based funding allocations. This program has been designed to be submitted to Infrastructure Australia and in turn to the New South Wales government and Infrastructure NSW for formal recognition as a ‘national infrastructure priority list’ project, based on:

  • National agricultural productivity;
  • Links to the proposed Inland Rail;
  • Innovative market investment approach to financing roads;
  • Economic Merit; and.
  • It is Deliverable.

The presentation will outline the process followed and the methodology adopted and why it should be used as a template for an improved road funding model.

National Road Asset Reporting PilotFor more information on the National Road Asset Reporting Pilot or to view/download the Bingara Accord please click here.

Call for Abstracts Open for Australian Regional Development Conference

Call for Abstracts are open for the Australian Regional Development Conference, an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. The program will include an extensive range of topics with Keynote Presenters, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies, Workshops and Poster Presentations.

Authors or organisations interested in submitting a paper or presenting a workshop are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words outlining the aims, contents and conclusions of their paper or presentation; or about their intended role in a workshop.

The Conference Streams are below (followed by sub-themes for concurrent sessions):

  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

Sub themes for concurrent sessions:

  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

All presenters at the conference can have papers included in the “Book of Proceedings” which is published internationally with an ISBN number. Peer reviewing is available. Delegates also have access to the podcast resource, post conference. A collection of presentations on Regional Development recorded in 2014 and 2015.

For more information or to submit an abstract, please click here.