Region Low on 2019 National Infrastructure List

Filed under AusPol, Infrastructure ~ by Throsby on  20 Feb 2019

Of Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) 2019 Infrastructure Priority List – comprising 121 “nationally significant” infrastructure proposals and a $58 billion project pipeline – only two long-outstanding items pertain to the Hunter region: Pacific Highway (M1) extension from Beresfield to Raymond Terrace, and New England Highway (A15) upgrades in the Hunter Valley.

No mention is made of a Newcastle container terminal, or a container freight rail link from Newcastle via western Sydney to Port Kembla. Listed instead are West Connex link to Port Botany, and Port Botany freight rail duplication.

And despite the “critical” nature of the M1 extension, it’s timescale is “0 to 5 years” while the A15 rates 5 to 10 years. In the minds of most Hunter road users, these have been outstanding concerns for decades.

Yet the report admits immediate benefits to local Hunter trucking and economies that would follow these relatively small projects.

The Pacific Highway is one of the most heavily used road corridors for freight in New South Wales. The highway is critical to the transport of freight between Sydney and Brisbane.

The current road network does not adequately cater for High Productivity Vehicles. Heavy vehicles travelling to and from Tomago industrial area and the Port of Newcastle are required to undertake contra-flow movements during the night.

The use of “High Productivity Vehicles” to transport freight is estimated to generate significant productivity benefits. It is estimated that these vehicles could perform the freight task with up to 37% fewer trucks and vehicle kilometres travelled compared to other vehicles, the report says.

Despite the Hunter Valley’s forty-odd coal mines supplying the world’s highest exporting port, the A15 priority of 5 to 10 years might see the upgrade occur in a post-coal era.

The New England Highway is part of the National Land Transport Network and is a major freight and passenger route, forming part of the inland Sydney–Brisbane corridor. The corridor services a high proportion of heavy freight vehicles and is the main road freight route between the Hunter Valley coalfields and the Port of Newcastle.

The Report

Developed using data from the Australian Infrastructure Audit and submissions from state and territory governments, industry and the community, including more than 100 submissions in the last year, the 2019 Priority List provides all levels of government with a list of infrastructure investment opportunities for the near, medium and longer term.

The 2019 Infrastructure Priority List is the largest, most comprehensive and most diverse list of investments identified by Infrastructure Australia to meet the challenges of the future. With a record 121 nationally significant proposals and a $58 billion project pipeline, the Priority List will guide the next 15 years of Australian infrastructure investment,” said Infrastructure Australia Chair, Julieanne Alroe.

The 2019 Priority List provides a credible pipeline of nationally significant proposals for governments at all levels to choose from. As an evidence-based list of opportunities to improve both our living standards and productivity, the Priority List reflects the diversity of Australia’s future infrastructure needs across transport, energy, water, communications, housing and education.”

Twenty-five new infrastructure proposals are in this year’s publication, with the 2019 Priority List identifying a total of 8 High Priority Projects, 10 Priority Projects, 29 High Priority Initiatives and 74 Priority Initiatives.

Many of the projects and potential infrastructure solutions identified in the 2019 Priority List respond to the challenges of population growth in our largest cities, and address the need for frequent and accessible public transport to reduce congestion and maintain Australia’s world-renowned liveability,” said Ms Alroe.

“Congestion in our cities and faster-growing regional centres not only has significant consequences for the Australian economy, but has direct impacts on communities, reducing people’s access to education, health services, employment and other opportunities.

New Technology

Many of this year’s new additions to the Priority List reflect the need for forward-thinking, ambitious solutions to support Australia’s future prosperity – such as the delivery of a national electric vehicle fast-charging network, which has been identified as a High Priority Initiative.

Technological change is driving significant shifts in infrastructure demand. The advent of electric vehicles, along with automation, growth in the ‘sharing economy’ and technological connectivity, could bring the largest transformation the transport sector has seen since the shift from steam to diesel locomotives.

The increase in electric vehicle uptake will forge links between the energy and transport network that did not previously exist, placing additional demands on the grid and pressure on consumer costs. The 2019 Priority List highlights the need for investment in the connectivity and reliability of our National Electricity Market in the medium to long term, and optimisation in the near term.

To consult the report or to pork barrel?

With New South Wales and federal elections on the horizon, Infrastructure Australia once again is urging decision-makers to consult the Infrastructure Priority List before committing funding to a pre-defined project.

With the release of the 2019 Priority List, and our Infrastructure Decision-making Principles last year, Infrastructure Australia is urging decision-makers to commit to solving any emerging or growing problem by embarking on a feasibility study to identify potential options, rather than a pre-defined project that may not be the most effective solution.

Communities rightly expect decisions on public infrastructure projects to be robust, transparent and accountable, and that projects are only committed to once planning and assessment has been done. Infrastructure Australia’s work in developing and maintaining the Priority List supports this. 

We are extremely proud of the work we have done over the past four years to establish a consistent, transparent process for how projects are independently assessed and Australia’s key infrastructure priorities are determined.

Decision-makers at all levels will best serve all Australians by continuing to consult the Priority List as a source of informed analysis on the projects that represent the best use of our infrastructure funding,” Ms Alroe said.

Why, even the Property Council of Australia agrees…

Infrastructure Australia’s $58 billion project pipeline of 121 “evidence-based, no-nonsense” priorities is the nation’s best insurance against white elephants, boondoggles and pork barrelling, says the Property Council.

The February 2019 Infrastructure Priority List is available at

2019 Infrastructure Priority List: New infrastructure initiatives, national and NSW
National Electricity Market (Future connectivity and reliability)
High Priority Initiative
National electric vehicle fast-charging network
High Priority Initiative
Regional road network safety improvements
High Priority Initiative
Remote housing overcrowding
High Priority Initiative
National Electricity Market (Near-term optimisation)
Priority Initiative
Regional NSW road network safety improvements
High Priority Initiative
A3 and A6 corridor capacity
Priority Initiative
Picton Road safety and capacity
Priority Initiative
Prospect Highway capacity
Priority Initiative
Shoalhaven River crossing capacity
Priority Initiative
Sydney CBD motorways optimisation
Priority Initiative
Sydney cruise terminal capacity
Priority Initiative
Key facts
  • ‘Projects’ are advanced proposals that have a fully developed business case that has been positively assessed by the independent Infrastructure Australia Board.
  • ‘Initiatives’ are proposals that have been identified to potentially address a nationally significant problem or opportunity, but require further development and rigorous assessment to determine if they are the most appropriate solution.
  • The High Priority and Priority Projects on the 2019 Infrastructure Priority List are worth a combined total of $58 billion.
  • Infrastructure Australia advises on national infrastructure priorities and assesses the economic merits of projects with fully-developed business cases. Funding decisions are made by governments or the private sector.

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