New Infrastructure WA board to help better develop the state

Premier Mark McGowan. Picture: Jon Bassett
Premier Mark McGowan. Picture: Jon Bassett

A NEW board called Infrastructure WA (IWA) will be set up to better develop the state and secure Commonwealth funds for major projects.

It is hoped the independent board, to be made up of leading public and private sector industry figures including a private industry chairman, will develop the best strategy on infrastructure without political pressure.

“There will be less silo decision-making across portfolios rather than each portfolio and minister making decisions without reference to a greater plan,” Premier Mark McGowan said this morning.

The State Government wants the right projects built, money saved, certainty brought to planning and Canberra funds used on advice from the IWA board.

“It’s not going to be looking at every sewage plant installation, cemetery board upgrade or parkland shade sail,” Mr McGowan said.

Instead, the proposed IWA, comprising five people from the private sector and five heads of government departments, will recommend which projects more than $100 million should go ahead for the greater economy as part of a 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy.

All other states have similar boards co-ordinating funds from Canberra and its agency Infrastructure Australia.

Mr McGowan said IWA, modelled on the six-year-old Infrastructure NSW, would have open processes and recommendations that politicians would have to consider.

He said it could recommend private-public funding partnerships, but legislation for its operation would require Upper House support.

In WA, controversial projects that led to industry and business calls for IWA included the previous government’s push for the Roe 8 extension, a second port, the on-going Elizabeth Quay and Optus Stadium developments.

This morning, Property Council of WA executive director Frank Iacomella said previous planning had “lacked insight to develop WA infrastructure”.

Any second port in Cockburn Sound and its already planned roads and infrastructure, such as the Latitude 32 terminal for container trucks, would mostly fall outside of IWA’s responsibility.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the current Westport Taskforce working on that project would mostly have completed its work before IWA was established in about 18 months.

Asked if IWA would quicken solving traffic congestion and improve old infrastructure, Ms Saffioti said the Government was starting freeway widening between Cockburn Central and Thomas Road and Vincent to Cedric streets.

“What IWA is really looking at is all the funding asks across government, including road, train and water, and co-ordinate the level of activity,” Ms Saffioti said.

Public comment on IWA closes on March 20 at www.dpc.wa.gov.au/infrastructurewa.

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