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Introduction

Why do we need a Tasmanian Infrastructure Strategy?

Infrastructure, and the way it is planned, provided, used and maintained, is one of the key levers that government has to increase productivity and economic growth and meet its policy objectives.  More specifically, infrastructure is crucial for the part it plays in responding to the challenges of:

  • climate change;
  • demographic change including an aging workforce and population;
  • an increasing freight task to meet growing export markets;
  • enhancing social inclusion; and
  • making the most of our natural advantage.

The Tasmanian Infrastructure Strategy coordinates our effort across the major economic sectors of transport, water, energy and digital. While the Strategy focuses on these sectors, many of the initiatives will have relevance across all infrastructure sectors. Importantly, the Strategy also recognises the essential role land use planning plays in the location and provision of infrastructure.

In addition, the Tasmanian Infrastructure Strategy complements the Tasmanian Innovation Strategy and Tasmanian Skills Strategy to provide a foundation to support sustained economic outcomes.
To respond effectively we must collectively:

  • have a long-term vision for infrastructure in Tasmania;
  • challenge our approach to the way we plan, deliver and maintain infrastructure in Tasmania;
  • embrace transformational change - in many cases incremental change for Tasmania is no longer acceptable;
  • make infrastructure decisions based on sound evidence and analysis;
  • provide infrastructure on a sustainable basis; and
  • deliver infrastructure with a commercial focus.

By responding in this way we will set up Tasmania to meet the substantial challenges of both today and tomorrow.

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The foundations have been set

Building on our work so far

The Government has been proactive in initiating infrastructure reform and coordinating major infrastructure initiatives in areas such as energy, water and sewerage, irrigation, broadband and land-use planning. The Tasmanian Infrastructure Strategy draws together, complements and builds on these reforms to ensure we continue to best position ourselves for the future.

Key reforms and projects to date include:

  • disaggregation of the Hydro-Electric Corporation;
  • joining the National Electricity Market;
  • commissioning Basslink inter-connector;
  • establishing natural gas market in Tasmania;
  • establishing the Tasmanian Planning Commission - a key to bringing infrastructure and land use planning together;
  • being the first State to leverage off the National Broadband Network;
  • establishing water and sewerage corporations to modernise our infrastructure;
  • funding committed for key irrigation projects across the state;
  • maintaining and enhancing rail services in Tasmania; and
  • securing record funding for roads and rail.

From this significant foundation, the Strategy focuses on areas to further enhance infrastructure provision in Tasmania. To assist the Strategy's development, the Government sought extensive input from business, community leaders, Local Government, transport, telecommunications, water, energy and other key stakeholders on the broader issues of importance.

The consultation identified the need to focus on the following key areas:

  • infrastructure planning coordination;
  • evidence-based decision-making;
  • transparency and communication of decisions;
  • alternative infrastructure solutions;
  • acknowledging expedient solutions not always optimal for long-term;
  • acknowledging high cost of infrastructure and long term maintenance burden; and
  • multiple and consistent planning approval processes.

In initiating the Tasmanian Infrastructure Strategy, the Tasmanian Government has the potential to lead the nation in coming to terms with its infrastructure challenges.  Embarking on this initiative now will not only lead to superior planning, provision and maintenance of infrastructure in Tasmania, but also provide Tasmania with the opportunity to optimally position itself to attract Australian Government investment.

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Infrastructure decision-making

Given the long functional life of built infrastructure and the significant costs involved, it is critical that infrastructure decisions occur in the context of the Government's overarching policy objectives, are based on sound analytical rigour and consider a range of solutions.

Policy objectives

Infrastructure decision making must align with Government policy objectives. For example, every decision related to infrastructure planning, provision, use and maintenance should consider the impact the decision has on long term climate change objectives.

Analytical rigour

The Government currently uses a vast range of data when considering infrastructure solutions including data derived from:

  • Demographic Change Advisory Council;
  • State Infrastructure Planning System;
  • Land Information System Tasmania; and
  • Infrastructure Resource and Information System.

Beyond existing sources of information, there is an opportunity to turn "dumb" infrastructure into "smart" infrastructure. Over the next decade, new technologies will provide a rich source of data about how we live, study and work. For instance, through the use of smart meters we can capture information to help plan and to optimise infrastructure use.

Infrastructure solutions

In addition to providing new infrastructure, there needs to be a broader focus on better use of our existing infrastructure, enhancement or phasing out of existing infrastructure where appropriate, or non infrastructure solutions to meet future challenges.  Therefore, how we define infrastructure is important as it frames our thinking.  Infrastructure is not only physical structures, but must also include those systems and processes that impact on the activities undertaken in our community.