Infrastructure Australia is seeking feedback on the 136 challenges and 44 opportunities identified in the audit, until 31 October 2019.
More than A$123 billion ($83bn) worth of construction work has begun since publication of the 2015 report, while Australian governments have committed to over A$200bn worth of future projects. However, infrastructure is failing to keep pace with rapid population growth, particularly in the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth; with the cost of road congestion in particular anticipated to increase by A$18.9bn to A$38.8bn by 2031.
While smaller 'satellite' cities had high quality infrastructure and the capacity to support growth, additional investment would be needed to ensure services were appropriate in scale to support the needs of the population, according to the report. It also called for urgent investment in social housing, transport, telecommunications and utilities in more remote parts of the country, where infrastructure service provision often "falls below what is acceptable for a highly developed nation".
The report also noted that the growth in so-called 'mega projects' larger than A$1bn in value was increasing the burden on Australia's infrastructure sector, in some cases exceeding industry skills and capacity. These projects "require new approaches if they are to be effectively delivered", according to Infrastructure Australia.
Infrastructure law expert Tom Heading of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said that other bodies, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, had recently called for the government to increase its infrastructure spend to boost productivity and stimulate the economy.
"The audit demonstrates a need for continuing high levels of investment in infrastructure," he said. "There are opportunities for foreign contractors to enter the Australian infrastructure market to take advantage of the steady flow of infrastructure work not only in Australia but in growing economies around the region, such as Indonesia."