In 2012, the first State Infrastructure Strategy and Long Term Transport Master Plan laid the foundations for the major projects being delivered today, like the Sydney Metro Northwest, WestConnex, and major hospital upgrades at Campbelltown, Dubbo, Bega, Wagga Wagga and Tamworth. In 2014, the State Infrastructure Strategy Update guided our Rebuilding NSW $20 billion investment plan, using the proceeds of our successful asset recycling program.
In 2015, Infrastructure NSW was asked to work with NSW agencies to provide independent assurance on the value of new investments and the on-time, on-budget delivery of projects. Those practices are now part of the infrastructure DNA of the NSW Government.
As the State Infrastructure Strategy 2018–2038: Building Momentum is published, NSW has a long pipeline of investment already underway or in advanced planning as a result of previous plans. NSW is in infrastructure delivery for the long haul. As a result, the new strategy switches the focus from developing an infrastructure project pipeline to achieving sustainable growth in the NSW population and economy – aligning investment in infrastructure with the way we build our communities and achieve innovation in service delivery.
Well-coordinated investment requires strong sector-specific plans. The planning focus in past years has been rightly on transport – with an investment program that dwarfs other jurisdictions and sectors – and on schools investment. Now, equivalent long-term, sector-specific plans are needed in health, vocational education, justice and water. This strategy sets out a process and timeline for ensuring that all areas of state investment in infrastructure are guided by coordinated plans.
In the course of delivering a large infrastructure program, NSW has learnt better ways to plan for the next tranche of projects and ensure we deliver and use our infrastructure in the most efficient ways. The practices adopted in NSW will ensure that new infrastructure supports population growth; enhance planning approval and procurement processes so we build assets more quickly and cost effectively; and more effectively maintain, repurpose and upgrade existing assets.
The strategy sets out the government’s priorities for the next 20 years, and combined with the Future Transport Strategy 2056, the Greater Sydney Region Plan and the Regional Development Framework, brings together infrastructure investment and land-use planning for our cities and regions.
Over the last seven years, NSW has invested and delivered to reduce its infrastructure backlog, creating a pipeline of future investment in major projects. NSW now has the most infrastructure projects underway of any state or territory in Australia, with new public transport networks, modern roads, schools and hospitals in delivery or in planning.
The NSW State Infrastructure Strategy 2018–2038 sets out the NSW Government’s infrastructure vision for the state over the next 20 years, across all sectors.
It is underpinned by:
By 2056, Greater Sydney will be a metropolis of ‘three cities’ – an Eastern Harbour City, Central River City and Western Parkland City. Residents will be able to access jobs and services within 30 minutes. Newcastle, Wollongong and Gosford will be important economic hubs with key transport and freight gateways, and strong service-based industries.
Communities will grow around a hub-and-spoke network of economic regions, linked by key freight and service routes to markets and suppliers in major cities. They will focus on their competitive advantage in agriculture, mining, primary resource manufacturing and the visitor economy.
Coordinated investment in growth areas across transport, health, education and water ensures we prioritise the creation of new places and neighbourhoods over individual assets. By ensuring capital investment keeps pace with new homes and jobs in priority locations, we can support population growth while maintaining local amenity. NSW agencies have developed practices to use shared planning assumptions, data and analytical tools; collaborate on planning places; and reserve corridors and land that can be used to provide a full range of services.
Infrastructure NSW works with agencies to identify risks so we can deliver our projects on time and on budget. Building new infrastructure is only the first step. Active asset management ensures that our infrastructure operates to the high standards expected by the community for as long as possible, and improving those practices will be a focus for the next five years.
The NSW Government will improve its capacity to assess major projects using better data and research – to deliver infrastructure more quickly and protect health, the environment and local amenity. The government will also review its procurement processes to drive innovation, reduce bid costs and promote competition.
Large investments of public money in infrastructure place an obligation on governments to optimise the life, availability and use of those assets.
Pressure on our assets is growing due to population growth, climate change, service expectations and funding constraints. Strong asset management is therefore needed, and new technologies provide opportunities to boost operations and increase benefits to the community.
We will renew our focus on asset management by developing a new asset management policy and an expanded assurance process, managed by Infrastructure NSW. This will build on the success of the assurance processes in place for our infrastructure pipeline, recurrent expenditure and ICT investment. We will also modernise our approach to asset management with better systems, data and technologies, and expand it to encompass interdependencies between sectors and broader environmental, social and economic outcomes.
Our $300 billion asset base needs to be resilient to shocks and stresses like floods, bushfires, storms and cyber threats. To improve the resilience of our assets, the NSW Government will, in the next five years, improve the collection and sharing of data on natural hazards; undertake regular assessments of the vulnerability of assets; and consider hazards in land-use planning and investment assessment for new and upgraded infrastructure.
Investment in digital technologies is at the heart of innovation in service delivery and better management of assets. The NSW Government has improved service quality and efficiency in various sectors through more connected infrastructure, and data and technology investment. This includes an open-data policy, the eHealth Strategy for NSW Health 2016–2026 and the Transport for NSW Future Transport Technology Roadmap). NSW can do even more to improve connectivity through Connecting Country Communities and better use of its own assets.
The NSW Government will improve the performance of infrastructure investments by embedding smart technology in new and upgraded infrastructure, adopting interoperability protocols and cybersecurity standards, and providing better spatial data and mapping of assets.
Since the 2012 State Infrastructure Strategy, the government has made extensive use of innovation in infrastructure markets to deliver assets. Many areas of service delivery and social policy have seen the benefits of using markets to deliver outcomes to citizens. NSW will continue to consider ways to apply the best skills in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to enhance customer outcomes, and to encourage continued innovation in the procurement and delivery of new public assets and services. We will also identify and proactively support opportunities for streamlined regulation to enable new markets and innovative products to develop.