Referral of inquiry
On 5 December 2013 the Senate referred provisions of the Infrastructure
Australia Amendment Bill 2013 (bill) to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs
and Transport Legislation Committee (committee) for inquiry and report by 17
Purpose of bill
The bill contains two schedules. Part 1 of Schedule 1 amends the Infrastructure
Australia Act 2008 to re-establish Infrastructure Australia (IA) as a
separate entity under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC
Act). Part 2 of Schedule 1 makes consequential amendments to the Income
Tax Assessment Act 1997 in order that determinations about
designated infrastructure projects are made by a responsible person rather
than, as currently, the Infrastructure Coordinator.
As part of the reforms detailed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the bill, IA
would be governed by the Board of Infrastructure Australia (board) comprising a
chair and eleven other members appointed by the Minister for Infrastructure and
Regional Development (minister). Other key elements of the bill include changes
in reporting arrangements with the board reporting to the minister and
establishment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position to manage IA and
report directly to the board.
Notwithstanding these changes, IA would remain an advisory body only.
The decision-making on funding allocation would remain with government. The
proposed functions of IA are set out in proposed section 5 and include
evaluating infrastructure proposals, developing Infrastructure Plans and
providing advice on infrastructure matters. Proposed section 5D details the
specific functions of IA which would be performed when directed by the
A new Part 2A provides for the establishment and functions of the board.
Item 11 would insert a new section 6E under Part 2A detailing the board's
functions. The bill prescribes the following responsibilities to the board:
- to decide the objectives, strategies and policies to be followed by
Infrastructure Australia; and
- to ensure the proper, efficient and effective performance of the
Infrastructure Australia's functions; and
- any other functions conferred on the board by this act.
Under provisions of the bill, all Commonwealth-funded projects worth
more than $100 million would undergo a cost-benefit analysis by IA.
IA was established as a statutory body under the Infrastructure
Australia Act 2008 (Act) and came into effect on 9 April 2008. Its purpose
is to serve as an independent advisor to government, investors and
infrastructure owners on issues including Australia's current and future
infrastructure needs, mechanisms for financing infrastructure investments, and
policy, pricing and regulation and their impacts on investment.
One of its key functions is to produce the Infrastructure Priority List which
provides the projects that IA considers to be central to strengthening the
economy, dealing with sustainable population growth, export bottlenecks, urban
congestion and climate change.
Prior to the federal election on 7 September 2013, the Coalition
made public its 'Policy to Deliver the Infrastructure for the 21st
Century'. The reforms proposed the re-establishment of IA led by a CEO
reporting to a board; development of infrastructure plans based on national,
state and local priorities spanning 15 years to be revised every five years;
and reviews of all Commonwealth infrastructure expenditure exceeding
$100 million on the basis of financial viability and cost effectiveness.
The policy stated that the intention of the proposed reforms was to strengthen
IA 'to create a more transparent, accountable and effective advisor on
infrastructure projects and policies'.
The proposed reforms to IA are reflected in proposed sections 4, 5 and 6 of the
Conduct of inquiry
The committee advertised the inquiry on its webpage and in The
Australian, calling for submissions to be lodged by 20 January 2014. The
committee also wrote directly to a range of organisations and individuals
likely to have an interest in the matters covered by the bill, drawing their
attention to the inquiry and inviting them to make written submissions.
The committee received 20 submissions which are listed at Appendix 1.
The submissions were published on the committee's webpage. The committee held a
hearing in Canberra on 28 February 2014. Appendix 2 lists the names and
organisations of those who appeared. Details of the inquiry, the bill and
associated documents including the Hansard transcript of evidence may accessed
through the committee's webpage.
The committee thanks those organisations and individuals who made
submissions and provided evidence at the public hearing.
Note on references
References to the Committee Hansard are to the proof Hansard. Page
numbers may vary between the proof and the official Hansard.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page