Today’s release of the 2021 update to Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List has included a number of key infrastructure priorities that have been the subject of advocacy by the region’s peak business advocacy organisation.
The big win in the updated list has been the elevation of the Picton Road Motorway Upgrade project from ‘medium’ to ‘near term’; a reflection of the campaign run last year by Business Illawarra, supported by councils and a large base of local businesses.
In addition, the much-needed Mount Ousley Interchange Project has been included on the Priority List for the first time with a 0-5 year timeframe; another example of the advocacy undertaken by the Illawarra First leadership forum and its members.
“The inclusion of the Mount Ousley Interchange Project and the advancement of the Picton Road Motorway Upgrade in today’s updated Infrastructure Australia Priority List reflects a lot of hard work and advocacy by the Illawarra business community and our partner councils over the previous 12 months,” said Mr Zarth.
“However, unfortunately, as we saw in the state government’s recent Draft Regional Transport Plan, major rail solutions to our region’s looming capacity constraints are missing in today’s updated Priority List.”
“Research we commissioned from the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility launched late last year found that without intervention by 2036, freight capacity constraints will be costing our economy $230 million per annum by 2041.”
“Instead the Priority List has ‘freight rail access to Port Kembla’ as a medium-term priority initiative. This does not reflect the pressing need for planning to commence on a solution that can keep our economy growing and serve our expanding population.”
“Our research found that the most cost-effective solution is for the South West Illawarra Rail Line proposal to be extended to St Marys in three stages, which will deliver a regional economic impact of $3.551 billion per annum by 2036.”
“Otherwise, the inclusion of delivering enabling infrastructure for hydrogen exports is a welcome inclusion to the Priority List, given the Illawarra’s emergence as an ideal location as a hub for the production, use and export of hydrogen.”
Infrastructure Australia is the independent infrastructure advisor to Australian governments that undertakes detailed assessments of major projects that it publishes as a half-yearly Priority List. Business Illawarra makes regular submissions to the list, putting forward projects that will benefit the regional economy, based on sound evidence produced through its Illawarra First leadership program.