Mounting costs from traffic congestion, inadequate water security and inflated energy prices for consumers threaten to erode living standards in Australia unless spending on infrastructure was not increased according to a Government report.
The first major report from Infrastructure Australia in four years acknowledged that cities like Sydney and Melbourne were burdened by rapid population growth with a mounting maintenance backlog and ageing transport links now showing the strain.
Findings in the report outlined the urgency for increased spending across road and public transport as congestion costs were estimated to double to nearly $40 billion by 2031.
Community opposition has contributed to the delay, with the cancellation or mothballing of more than A$20 billion in infrastructure projects this decade including Roe 8 Highway extension in Perth and the East West Link in Melbourne.
The report said a new wave of reform and investment would be necessary to ensuring quality of life and economic productivity to meet increasing demands driven by a consumer economy over the next 15 years.
In May, the re-elected Government campaigned on spending $100 billion on roads, railways and airports over the next decade.
According to the 700 page audit that investment will not be enough.
Without further investment the annual cost of road congestion is projected to grow to $38.8 billion by the end of next decade.
Less than a third of projects on Infrastructure Australia's Priority List were currently allocated funding by the Federal Government.
Infrastructure Australia Chair Julieanne Alroe was pleased to see so many new additions to the Priority List this year that focus on getting the most out of existing assets including the use of new smart technology like Intelligent Transport Systems.
"Many of this year's new additions reflect the need for forward-thinking, ambitious solutions to support our future prosperity – for example, the delivery of a national electric vehicle fast-charging network identified as a High Priority Initiative," Alroe said.
"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," she said.
"It will also forge links between the energy and transport network that did not previously exist, place additional demands on the grid and pressure on consumer costs. This is one of the reasons this year’s list also 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."