Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities portfolio
This chapter outlines some of the key issues discussed during the
hearing for the Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities portfolio on 26
The committee heard from divisions of the Department of Infrastructure,
Regional Development and Cities (the department) and portfolio agencies in the
Australian Rail Track Corporation;
Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency;
Australian Maritime Safety Authority;
Australian Transport Safety Bureau;
Civil Aviation Safety Authority;
Infrastructure Investment Division; and
The following agencies and divisions were released during the course of
the hearing without providing evidence:
Western Sydney Unit;
Aviation and Airports Division;
Surface Transport Policy Division;
Portfolio Coordination and Research Division;
Inland Rail and Rail Policy Division; and
Regional Development and Local Government Division.
The committee sought information from Infrastructure Australia (IA) on
whether it had received and assessed business cases for the following projects:
Replacement of the old Nowra bridge;
National Broadband Network;
Snowy Hydro 2.0;
Relocation of the University of Tasmania as part of the
Launceston City Deal;
Coffs Harbour Bypass on the Pacific Highway;
Macquarie Park Interchange;
Joy Baluch Bridge;
Grand Strzelecki Track upgrade;
Central Arnhem Road;
Darwin water supply;
METRONET projects in Western Australia;
West Gate Tunnel;
North East Link; and
The committee sought information on the business cases currently being
assessed by IA. It was informed that all current business cases are for
projects in Queensland and South Australia. IA officials also provided the
committee with information on the number of business cases assessed over the
last few years.
Australian Rail Track Corporation
The committee raised concerns from constituents regarding the noise from
coal trains in Singleton in the New South Wales Hunter Valley region. Officials
of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) reassured the committee that
they were aware of the problem and agreed to review the noise issue.
The committee focused on the Inland Rail project, including questions
about land acquisition and community consultation. Officials provided the
committee with a summary of the key issues raised in community consultations, which
included flood mitigation, noise and land severance, and assured the committee
that consultative committees have been established to address these concerns.
ARTC provided an update on the North East Link in Victoria. It informed
the committee that a project proposal report has been produced and is being
peer reviewed by Monash University.
WSA Co was established in August 2017 to develop and operate the Western
Sydney Airport. This was the first appearance of the agency before the
The Chair of the WSA Co board, Mr Paul O'Sullivan, provided the
committee with an overview of the board's membership, and detailed some of the achievements
of the company since its establishment, including:
opening a head office in Liverpool;
commencing work on enabling activities, such as work with
TransGrid to bury a transmission line that would otherwise cross the runway;
ongoing air and noise monitoring; and
commencing early earthworks in the north-east corner of the site.
The committee sought information on the return on investment of the
airport, which is expected up to 25 years after the airport commences operation
The committee raised concerns regarding noise from the airport. WSA Co
explained that a noise amelioration package of $75 million has been included in
the business case as part of Commonwealth preparatory activities.
Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency
The Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency (IPFA) recently moved
into the Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities portfolio as a result
of a machinery of government change. As such, this was the first appearance of
the agency before the committee.
The IPFA is a small executive, advisory agency responsible for providing
independent and specialist commercial and financial advice to support
government infrastructure projects in their delivery.
During the hearing, the committee explored this role further.
The IPFA and the department highlighted the benefits of IPFA's work in
terms of both efficiencies and savings to government. The Secretary of the
department, Dr Steven Kennedy, informed the committee that as the IPFA now
provides the commercial expertise required by the department, it is less
reliant on external contractors for specialist advice.
The committee sought information on the staffing and budget of the IPFA.
The agency has 11 staff, not including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of
whom eight are employed within the Australian Public Service and three are
contractors. The agency is allocated $4.2 million per annum, 80 per cent of
which goes to labour and contracting costs, with the remainder used for other
expenses including accommodation.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has responsibility for
directing cruise ships at berth in Sydney Harbour to prevent excess sulphur
emissions. The committee focused its attention on this role.
AMSA informed the committee that it had issued 55 directions and
conducted 48 compliance checks on 30 cruise ships. AMSA CEO, Mr Mick Kinley,
informed the committee that there had been no reason to take further fuel
sampling as many ships have fitted scrubbers which take the sulphur out of the
AMSA outlined the process it would undertake in the instance of
non-compliance, noting that it had yet to issue a penalty notice.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau
Mr Greg Hood, Chief Commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety
Bureau (ATSB), provided an opening statement which outlined the work of the
ATSB over the previous 12 months. The key activities of the agency included 153
active investigations underway, comprising 111 aviation, 31 rail and 11 marine
Mr Hood explained that progress was also underway to finalise a number
of older investigations with 127 final investigation reports published in 2017.
Furthermore, to improve the timeliness of its reporting, the ATSB recruited 11
new transport safety investigators in February 2018.
The ATSB provided the committee with information regarding near
encounters with drones. Mr Hood explained that in the five-year period from 2012
to 2016, there had been 127 such encounters and that in 2017 alone, there were
151. As at January 2018, there had been 11 occurrences of which six occurred
within 20 miles of Sydney.
Mr Hood noted that in the majority of encounters, it was near impossible
to identify the drone. He noted that the ATSB's response to a Civil Aviation
Safety Authority discussion paper suggested that markings or personal
identification on a drone would assist the ATSB in the conduct of its
The committee discussed the report released by the ATSB on
23 November 2017 regarding the Pel-Air accident. The discussion centred on the
importance of timely weather reporting and whether this matter was sufficiently
covered in the report.
Airservices Australia provided the committee with an update on the
OneSKY Australia program. Under OneSKY, civilian and military air traffic
control will be managed under one system. The committee was informed that the
final contracts for OneSKY were executed in February 2018.
Mr Jason Harfield, CEO of Airservices Australia, advised the committee that
the final contract value of acquisition was $1.2 billion, with a cost
allocation ratio of 57 per cent Airservices Australia and 43 per cent
Department of Defence. He also explained that work had commenced on the voice
communication system and will be commissioned later this year.
Mr Harfield explained to the committee that OneSKY will enable greater
route optimisation, providing a more efficient air traffic route as well as
trajectory-based operational improvements such as climb and descent. In terms
of the benefits of these improvements, the committee was informed that Deloitte
conducted an assessment which identified more than $1 billion in economic
The committee also extensively traversed the topic of firefighting foam
containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Airservices Australia
informed the committee that all the foams that it uses are certified by the
Civil Aviation Safety Authority. It noted that firefighting foam is used for
operational purposes only and that all of its firefighters are required to have
personal protective equipment.
At Darwin and Townsville airports, where Airservices Australia is under
contract to the Department of Defence, Ansulite aqueous film-forming foam
(AFFF) is used. With regard to the remaining 24 airport operation services
provided by Airservices Australia, the agency transitioned to a PFAS-free foam,
Solberg RF6, in 2010.
In terms of the legacy of PFAS contamination, Airservices Australia
informed the committee that it has conducted testing at all of its current
firegrounds. It also noted that efforts are underway to understand the risk
profile while control measures are in place to manage the health and safety
The committee asked Airservices Australia about flight paths to Hobart Airport
introduced in September 2017. Mr Harfield noted that the change was made to
improve the safety of the flight path into Hobart Airport. However, he
acknowledged that the agency's community consultation had been inadequate. In
response to concerns raised by the public following the flight path change,
Airservices Australia corrected the flight path but was not able to restore it
to the exact path used previously. Terms of reference for a further review were
developed to consider further improvements to the flight path and address
Civil Aviation Safety Authority
The committee's primary line of questioning concerned the grounding of eight
of the nine pilots who worked for the air ambulance company, FalconAir.
The committee sought information from the Civil Aviation Safety
Authority (CASA) in relation to each pilot involved. CASA informed the
committee that the pilots' qualifications were either not current or had not
been validly checked. CASA's CEO, Mr Shane Carmody, noted that if the pilots
had continued to fly, they would have been in breach of both their own
operations manual and the provisions of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988. He
concluded that, as many of the pilots were outside the operational proficiency
checks, he had no confidence that the checking and training regime was
operating to ensure that the pilots were proficient.
The committee also considered the circumstances of a subsequent
exemption signed by Mr Carmody as Director of Aviation Safety on 21 December
2017 to allow FalconAir's Falcon 50 to operate over the Christmas period.
Infrastructure Investment Division
The officials of the Infrastructure Investment Division within the
Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities provided an
update on a review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.
A review of these standards commenced in December 2017. A discussion paper will
be released in March 2018 with a submissions process to be undertaken alongside
public consultations which will be held across the country until mid-2018.
The National Partnership Agreement (NPA) entered into by the
Commonwealth with state and territory governments in October 2014 with regard
to road and rail projects underpins the working relationship between the
respective governments. With the NPA due to expire in June 2019, the department
has initiated discussions with the states and territories on the terms of a new
The committee received updates on a number of infrastructure projects,
Perth Freight Link;
Hobart Airport roundabout;
Bolivia Hill upgrade;
Tenterfield heavy vehicle bypass;
North East Link;
Melbourne Airport rail link; and
Faster Rail program.
The committee received an update on a number of existing and progressing
city deals including the Townsville, Launceston and Darwin city deals.
Townsville City Deal
The Townsville City Deal, signed in late 2016, included Commonwealth
funding of $100 million towards the construction of the North Queensland
Stadium and $150 million toward the construction of the Townsville Eastern
Access Rail Corridor.
The City Deal included a commitment to create a local partnership forum
to provide insight on local issues. The forum is also expected to serve as a
conduit between the community and the executive board that implements the deal.
This forum held its first meeting in September 2017.
Launceston City Deal
The Launceston City Deal was finalised in April 2017 and included Commonwealth
funding of $149.33 million towards projects such as the Tamar Estuary
taskforce, relocation of the University of Tasmania, the City Heart
Redevelopment Project and the Smart Cities project.
The Launceston City Deal executive board met early in 2018 and resolved
to create a community and business forum.
Darwin City Deal
A memorandum of understanding between the Commonwealth and Northern
Territory Government was signed in May 2017 as a step towards a future City
Deal for Darwin. Thereafter, a broad-ranging community consultation process was
undertaken in Darwin to seek input from the community about preferred priority
The department informed the committee that it is working with its Northern
Territory counterparts to discuss what a City Deal for Darwin would look like.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page