Victoria’s Draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy

By on April 23, 2021

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of the CMPA.

Purpose

Since Infrastructure Victoria released the first 30-year infrastructure strategy in 2016, the Victorian Government has allocated many billions of dollars for new infrastructure, first in response to rapid population growth, and most recently in response to the Victoria’s devastating bushfires and the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. This dramatic rise is producing record infrastructure investment, including on new transport, health, education, social housing and tourism infrastructure.

Victoria’s population boomed in the last decade, adding more than 1.2 million people. The COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly halted this rapid growth. The Victorian Government, along with the Australian Government, local governments, businesses and the community have been focused on responding to the pandemic above all else since it started. But COVID-19 is not the only challenge Victoria faces now and over the next 30 years. It must also respond to other events, including climate change, technological disruptions, demographic shifts, economic dislocations and emergencies.

Infrastructure Victoria is updating Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy. The update will make sure our advice on infrastructure needs for Victoria:

  • remains current
  • reflects policy changes, and
  • responds to emerging challenges

(https://engage.vic.gov.au/victorias-30-year-infrastructure-stratergy/)

CMPA submission

Consideration needs to be given to where the construction materials are going to originate from to service and accommodate this increase in infrastructure. Construction materials need to be located in close proximity to their utilisation in order to minimise transport costs, hence, reducing the carbon footprint. The lead time to open a quarry, due to the complex approval processes, can be up to 8 years.

Even for a variation to an existing quarry to increase production may take several years and once approved there may be a 12 month wait for fixed and/or mobile plant to be imported from overseas. The adequate supply of closely located, quality construction materials is vital to meet expected growth needs including critical infrastructure in Victoria and is the cornerstone to successfully achieving an Infrastructure Strategy.

p.20

“Recommendation 60. Expand the legislated definition of critical infrastructure and improve information flows. Immediately consider expanding the Victorian definition of critical infrastructure beyond energy, water and transport. Expand information sharing capabilities across and beyond critical infrastructure sectors.”

CMPA Comments

The extractive industry should also be included as critical infrastructure. The construction material supplied by quarries is fundamental to ensuring the existence of critical infrastructure such as energy, water, and transport. Adequate supply of construction material is at risk due to encroachment from inappropriate land use and long lead times for quarry approvals and variations.

P.23

“Recommendation 77. Deliver funding certainty for regional road maintenance and upgrades. Within two years, specify clear levels of service for each type of regional road and bridge. Following this, dedicate an ongoing program to fund regional road and bridge maintenance and upgrades to meet these service levels. Funding should be prioritised based on improving safety, decreasing vehicle emissions, and lifting economic productivity.”

CMPA comments

The above recommendation 77 is supported together with the detail of the recommendation on p.204.

SUMMARY

  • Capital investment in quarries either new or those seeking to increase production of construction materials requires the extractive industry to have confidence in the Infrastructure Strategy.
  • Of concern is that due to no prioritisation, the recommendations are “cherry picked” by Government based on ease of implementation, popularity, and lower cost in preference to the infrastructure build recommendations that Victoria needs.
  • Without a coherent, realistic, and practicable strategy for infrastructure coupled with the anticipated growth in the population of Victoria (notwithstanding the current hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic) the economic, social, and environmental prosperity of a growing Victoria will be at risk.

Note: The full CMPA submission is available at;

https://cmpavic.asn.au/publications/submissions/

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