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 18
and 22 February 2019.
The committee heard from divisions of the Department of Infrastructure,
Regional Development and Cities (the department) and portfolio agencies on 18
February 2019 in the following order:
Australian Rail Track Corporation;
Inland Rail and Rail Policy Division;
Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency;
Infrastructure Investment Division;
Regional Development and Local Government Division;
Surface Transport Policy Division;
Australian Maritime Safety Authority;
Airservices Australia; and
The following agencies and divisions were released during the course of
the hearing without providing evidence:
Aviation and Airports Division; and
Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The committee heard from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority on 22 February
The committee sought information from Infrastructure Australia (IA) on
the following projects and business cases:
Albany Ring Road;
Ellenbrook Rail Line;
North East Link;
Iron Road Project;
Melbourne Airport Rail Link;
Melbourne Metro 2.0; and
Melbourne Outer Metropolitan Ring Road.
The committee sought information on the National Electric Vehicle Fast
Charging Network. It was informed that the network of charging electric vehicle
stations will follow the National Land Transport Network. Infrastructure
Australia indicated that over time, stations will be made available in regional
Australian Rail Track Corporation
The committee raised concerns regarding the consultation process and
eventual adoption of the Gilmours Road Option B plan for the Burroway to Curban
section of the Inland Rail. Officials confirmed to the committee that the plan
was preferred over other options for reasons including reduced cost and transit
time. It was also acknowledged that the plan was agreed to, despite the views
of approximately 350 landowners, who raised concerns with it at community
The committee requested that the Minister for Infrastructure and
Transport and Regional Development consider instructing the Australian Rail
Track Corporation (ARTC) to revisit the other options, including those favoured
by local communities.
The committee also questioned the consultation process for the North East
Rail Line project. The ARTC confirmed that community consultation sessions had
taken place both before and after the review of the scope of works was prepared
and that track work had commenced.
Inland Rail and Rail Policy Division
The committee heard that the following projects are being funded as part
of the National Rail Program:
Melbourne Airport Rail Link;
Monash rail planning and preconstruction;
Frankston to Baxter rail upgrade;
Gold Coast Light Rail;
Beerburrum to Nambour line;
Western Sydney North South Rail business case;
Gawler rail line and electrification; and
In total, of the $10 billion allocated to the National Rail Program,
$4.9 billion was allocated to these projects from the budget, with an
additional $112 million allocated after the budget to the Gold Coast Light
The committee also sought information on efforts to address possible
skilled labour shortages in the rail sector. Officials assured the committee
that they are currently engaged in a range of activities to address the
shortage, including vocational training, in collaboration with the Department
of Education and Training.
Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency
The Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency (IPFA) updated the
committee on funding arrangements for a number of City Deals including
Townsville, Launceston, Geelong and Darwin. During questioning about the Darwin
City Deal, IPFA indicated that the deal may be funded in part by the government
with other funding being provided by the Northern Australia Infrastructure
The committee sought information on IPFA's advice to the department
regarding procurement models and delivery approaches with regard to both the
Melbourne Airport Rail Link and the North East Link. Departmental officials
indicated that the department had not yet fully engaged IPFA to provide advice
on these projects.
Infrastructure Investment Division
The committee received updates on a number of infrastructure projects,
Marion Road, South Australia;
Bridgewater Bridge, Tasmania;
Roads of Strategic Importance in Tasmania;
Hobart Airport interchange;
Bribie Island Road upgrade project;
North East link;
Waurn Pond duplication.
The committee discussed a range of Urban Congestion Fund projects. It
was informed that $30 million had been committed to address Victorian urban
congestion, although specific detail with regard to upgrades and changes to
ease congestion are still being considered.
Regional Development and Local Government Division
The committee focussed its attention on the administration of various
grants and programs including the Community Development Grants program, the
Stronger Communities Fund, the Regional Growth Fund and Financial Assistance
The Regional Development and Local Government Division (RDLGD) confirmed
that $992,000 for Round 3 of the Stronger Communities Fund had been left
unspent from a budgeted $22.5 million. The officers explained that this was due
to a number of factors including projects not being lodged on time, projects
not meeting the program guidelines, and certain electorates not having money
committed in the first place.
The committee also discussed decentralisation. Senator Bridget McKenzie,
Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation
confirmed that 1,229 positions had been relocated to regional areas since the
policy began in 2017. The majority of these positions have been relocated to
Gosford, Western Sydney and Adelaide.
Surface Transport Policy Division
The committee asked the Surface Transport Policy Division (STP) about progress
towards achieving the National Road Safety Strategy targets. The division
confirmed that no state or territory was on track to achieve the targets of a
30 per cent reduction in fatalities and a 30 per cent reduction in serious
The Austroads Safety Task Force project, established to measure
non-fatal crash outcomes, commenced in November 2015. Stage 1 of the project
was a pilot which commenced in November 2015 and has concluded. Officials
informed the committee that the purpose of the pilot was to match data on hospital
deaths with crash data.
The committee heard that as the current Road Safety Strategy expires at
the end of 2020, the next National Road Safety Strategy is currently being
developed. The new strategy will run for 10 years from 2021.
The committee sought information on acoustic vehicle altering systems
following the publication of a study by Vision Australia and Monash University.
The study revealed that the risk of incidents between people who are blind or
have low vision with electric and hybrid vehicles is likely to increase unless
measure are taken to protect them on the roads. However, the department
confirmed that there are no current plans to create Australian Design Rules (ADR)
to address this risk.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
During the hearing with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA),
the committee focused its attentions on Marine Order 504 (Certificates of
operation and operational requirements–national law) 2018. Under the national
law, for voyages of less than 12 hours, a vessel master must ensure that 'at
least 1 head count is conducted of all passengers on board the vessel' and to
'know the number of passengers on the vessel at all times'.
Drawing on a coroner's report into a death at sea in October 2014, the
committee questioned the efficacy of the headcount requirement. The committee
also sought clarification as to the decision making process within AMSA not to
proceed with preparing a brief of evidence for the Director of Public
Prosecutions in regard to the 2014 tragedy.
The concerns of the committee were heightened during the evidence of AMSA.
Following a private meeting, the Chair made a statement on behalf of the
committee. He indicated that the committee had agreed to conduct an inquiry
into the performance of AMSA, with particular focus on the issues raised during
the estimates hearing, as part of its oversight responsibilities.
During estimates, the committee focussed its questioning of Airservices
Australia on the issue of aviation rescue and firefighting. In particular, the
committee sought an update on progress towards implementing the recommendations
of Coroner Greg Cavanagh to strengthen operational procedures and training
protocols following a crash involving an Airservices fire truck in 2015.
Mr Glenn Wood, Chief Fire Officer, Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting
Services, advised the committee that all of the recommendations made by Coroner
Greg Cavanagh have been implemented with one exception. He noted that the
lighting upgrade on the large vehicles is due to be completed within months.
Mr Wood also informed the committee that at present, aviation firefighters
are not allowed to train with ladders of over two metres. He explained the
risks of falling off a ladder and noted that Airservices had examined the
matter and determined to take steps to restrict its firefighters from climbing
up ladders greater than two metres in training. Mr Wood clarified that
firefighters were still able to practice the necessary skills while Airservices
formed a working group to consider an improved way to work with ladders. He
further noted that staff can still use ladders in an operational context.
Final report on the performance of Airservices Australia
In the 44th Parliament, the Legislation Committee self-referred an
inquiry into Airservices Australia under Standing Order 25(2)(a). In the 45th
Parliament, the committee re-adopted the inquiry.
The committee held a number of hearings on 28 November 2014, 18 August
2015, 9 September 2015, 9 August 2017 and 4 December 2018. The committee also
raised issues with Airservices through the estimates process each year from
2014 and took submissions.
A final report in relation to the committee's inquiry into the
performance of Airservices is provided in Chapter 5.
The committee received an update on a number of existing and progressing
city deals including the Darwin, Perth and Western Sydney city deals.
Darwin City Deal
An implementation plan for the Darwin City Deal was signed on 16 November
2018 and it was agreed to make the plan public within three to six months. The
implementation board has met since and is proceeding with the plan. The board
expects to make the plan public within the set timeframe.
The new education and civic precinct of Darwin will receive $97.3
million. The department is currently working with the Northern Territory
government and Charles Darwin University to determine funding arrangements and
the timeline for the delivery of the project.
The department is currently in discussions with the Department of
Defence and the Larrakia people about the Stokes Hill site and proposed
development of the harbour foreshore. The Department of Defence has indicated
that it will take two to three years to complete the necessary cultural and
heritage reviews and investigation into potential contamination from a nearby
naval fuel facility. The Larrakia Development Corporation has submitted a
business case to develop the area.
Perth City Deal
The Perth City Deal Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with meetings
planned with the Western Australian government to consider matters including
the scope of the deal and timeline for implementation.
Western Sydney City Deal
The implementation plan for the Western Sydney City Deal was published
in December 2018. The Commonwealth government committed $125 million to the
In early January, the Commonwealth, state and local governments
announced the Liveability Program which will provide a range of projects in
each of eight local government areas to provide urban amenity. The committee
heard that under the program, each council has access to $18.75 million in
Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Mr Shane Carmody, Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Aviation and
Safety Authority (CASA), read a short opening statement. Mr Carmody expressed
the view that significant progress had been made with the Civil Aviation Safety
Regulations. The regulations are now 95 per cent complete with just three more
to be finalised before the program is completed.
Mr Carmody also updated the committee on the developments with regard to
drone registration. In accordance with the recommendations of the Senate
References Committee report into the regulation of remotely piloted aircraft,
CASA is conducting a consultation on the registration of drones. This
consultation also includes an online education course and has so far received
over 4,100 responses.
The committee sought information on regulations affecting community
service flights. Mr Carmody informed the committee that the regulations had
been changed to require pilots to have 400 hours of experience with 25 hours in
command. CASA officials acknowledged that this is at the lower end of similar
regulations worldwide and would have little effect on community service
operators. However, it brings the Australian standard closer to similar
operations including those in the United States.
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