Infrastructure Western Australia public consultation

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After considerable speculation, the WA Government has launched its proposed model to establish an independent infrastructure advisory body, Infrastructure Western Australia (Infrastructure WA). Infrastructure WA will be established in 2019 and will comprise of a mix of 10 public and private sector experts, including representatives from Treasury and the Departments of Premier and Cabinet, Planning Lands and Heritage, Primary Industries and Regional Development and Transport. Infrastructure WA is intended to improve infrastructure planning and decision making in WA and will focus on identifying and assessing the infrastructure needs and priorities for WA. In summary, the likely functions of Infrastructure WA will be to:

  • develop a 20-year infrastructure strategy for WA and identify infrastructure needs
  • evaluate infrastructure proposals which are high risk or above $100 million
  • create more transparency and support government agencies to develop their own infrastructure plans/business cases and to administer existing infrastructure planning/advisory processes
  • coordinate WA's dealings with Infrastructure Australia
  • provide independent expert advice on infrastructure matters including alternative funding and financing models.

The proposed model for Infrastructure WA is based on a number of similar infrastructure advisory bodies across Australia.  The key features of the proposed model are summarised in further detail below.

Does it go far enough?

Some of the key policy drivers underpinning the establishment of Infrastructure WA appear to be to take the politics out of infrastructure planning and to ensure that the Government is less siloed in its decision making and that State funds are invested more wisely. The proposed model for Infrastructure WA is overall a step in the right direction to address the inefficiencies in the status quo. However the WA Government will retain a considerable degree of control over short to medium term planning and prioritisation. There remains potential for politicisation of infrastructure investment. By contrast, other states have taken a different approach to short to medium term planning, with their infrastructure advisory bodies preparing 5 year plans (which, at least in NSW, informs the budget process).

Project funding and financing is another area where Infrastructure WA will be given a limited role, in contrast to similar bodies in other states. The WA Government has taken the view that this is a matter best left to Government and government agencies. However we query whether there is a bigger role for Infrastructure WA to play in assessing funding and financing options, particularly given its independence, its role in infrastructure auditing and the fact that it will have a more targeted and active interaction with the private sector and government agencies on infrastructure matters.

It is also unclear how Infrastructure WA will maintain independence, given its involvement both in assisting government agencies to prepare business cases for projects and in evaluating project proposals. The proposed model does not provide much guidance on this matter other than that it will be managed through internal processes.

Unfortunately it appears Infrastructure WA will play a limited role in respect of existing major projects, for example Metronet and Westport. These will be significantly progressed by the time it is established and therefore planning will be done for this infrastructure investment within the existing status quo. 

The WA Government is currently seeking submissions on its proposal by Tuesday 20 March 2018.

For a copy of the proposal and information on how to make a submission visit:

If you have any questions on the Infrastructure WA Proposal or would like help writing a submission please contact Katherine Vines.

Key features of proposed model

Core functions

  • Long term strategy: Develop a 20-year infrastructure strategy as an independent report to Government (ie non-binding) covering public and private sector delivered infrastructure across economic, social and environmental asset classes.
    • Review every 5 years (or earlier if warranted or directed).
    • Provide annual reports on the Government's progress against the infrastructure strategy.
    • Undertake comprehensive infrastructure audits and public consultation to inform strategy development.
  • Project development and evaluation:
    • Assist government agencies with the early stages of business case development.
    • Evaluate proposals for infrastructure projects above a threshold (e.g. $100million) and high risk projects (at this stage the proposed model does not indicate what a high risk project will be) and provide advice to Treasury and Government.
    • Conflicts between these functions will be managed internally.
  • Project assurance: Representation on the Gateway Steering Committee for Gateway reviews (independent assessment at various points/gates over a project's lifespan), with scope for Gateway reviews to be transferred to Infrastructure WA over time.

Other functions

  • High level advice on potential infrastructure funding and financing models.
  • Identify short to medium term projects with greatest potential to attract private sector financing.
  • Draw on experience of private sector members to strengthen the quality of advice provided to Government on private financing opportunities at strategic and individual project levels, thereby assisting the Government in attracting funding from private and Commonwealth sources.
  • Perform a strategic coordination role across Government, in particular working closely with the WA Planning Commission and Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.
  • Additional advice and infrastructure planning on request from the Premier.
  • Input and coordination of advice/submissions on Infrastructure Australia's Infrastructure Audit, Infrastructure Plan and Infrastructure Priority List (including reviewing and advising on business cases to be submitted to Infrastructure Australia) in order to improve their quality and consistency and increase the likelihood of securing Commonwealth funding.

Functions undertaken by Government / other agencies

  • The WA Government will retain responsibility for short to medium term infrastructure planning, which it already undertakes as part of the budget process to avoid any duplication of effort. However, it is expected that Infrastructure WA will have input into this.
  • Treasury will continue its existing project evaluation functions and provide detailed funding and financial model advice (along with delivery agencies).
  • DPC will coordinate state infrastructure funding negotiations and submissions to the Commonwealth in order to ensure submissions are coordinated in line with the WA Government's infrastructure priorities.


  • Board of up to 10 members comprising an independent chair (ie non-government) with casting vote), 5 government agency members, being the Under Treasurer and the Directors General of the Departments of Premier and Cabinet, Planning Lands and Heritage, and two rotational positions for other government agencies (initially these will be filled by the Departments of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Transport), and 4 non-government members (appointed on the recommendation of the Premier).
  • Overseen by a Cabinet sub-committee. Infrastructure WA will report directly to the Premier.
  • Premier will have the ability to direct Infrastructure WA in certain limited circumstances and these directions will be published.
  • Established under an Act, with detailed framework set out in regulations, policies and guidelines.
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