Legal & Compliance, Major Projects & Infrastructure

Infrastructure Australia assessment enhancements

Infrastructure Australia has published new guidelines for the development and assessment of major infrastructure plans.

INFRASTRUCTURE Australia has published new guidelines for the development and assessment of major infrastructure proposals.

The 2021 Assessment Framework is a contemporary approach to guide infrastructure decision-making in Australia. It provides clear and concise instructions on how to develop strong business cases and aims to streamline approval processes.

Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework sets out the criteria for assessing proposals for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List (Priority List), the national pipeline of investment priorities. The 2021 edition of the Assessment Framework was developed over an 18-month period in close consultation with key stakeholders, including a Reference Group made up of experts from federal, state and territory governments.

The 2021 edition includes broadened Assessment Criteria to allow for more holistic review of a proposal’s potential benefits, in addition to those that can be monetised through traditional cost–benefit analysis. This enables Infrastructure Australia to better take account of benefits such as sustainability, resilience and quality of life, which are covered in expanded guidance in this edition.

“Infrastructure Australia’s enhanced Assessment Framework responds to community expectations, while still setting clear and transparent expectations on how we will assess major infrastructure proposals,” said Infrastructure Australia chief executive, Romilly Madew.

“One of the clear messages we have heard from stakeholders around the country, is that they wanted the Assessment Framework to provide more support for the consideration of broader community benefits that can be delivered through major infrastructure investment.”

Madew said their 2021 Assessment Framework supports the development of high-quality business cases for major infrastructure while also reflecting a clear shift in our approach. In addition to the benefit–cost ratio of a proposal, we are now better positioned to consider broader social and community outcomes alongside traditional economic benefits when advising governments on potential investments.

“In enhancing the Assessment Framework, we have aimed to not only reflect the latest thinking but also improved transparency and useability. To do this, we have developed an Assessment Framework that provides robust but pragmatic guidance, which aligns to national, state and territory guidelines and supports streamlined project assessment,” she said.

“To ensure the Assessment Framework remains fit for purpose and continues to reflect best-practice advice, Infrastructure Australia is committed to updating it periodically. The 2021 edition represents a comprehensive enhancement of its content and structure, which responds to input from stakeholders and Infrastructure Australia’s own research and experience.”

Key updates to the Assessment Framework include:

  • New guidance on how to demonstrate strategic merit, quality-of-life impacts, meaningful stakeholder engagement activities, sustainability and resilience.
  • A simpler, four-stage process that aligns with state and territory frameworks.
  • A pragmatic approach for defining a base case.
  • Recommending but not requiring at least two options and a base case in a business case.
  • An updated CBA methodology.
  • Four new technical guidelines to provide greater detail on: risk and uncertainty analysis; program appraisal; multi-criteria analysis and economic appraisal.