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Infrastructure Australia Amendment (Social Sustainability) Bill 2017

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2017

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infrastructure Australia Amendment (Social Sustainability) Bill 2017

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Cathy McGowan



Infrastructure Australia Amendment (Social Sustainability) Bill 2017

 

 

OUTLINE

The purpose of the Bill is to strengthen the social and community benefit considerations that are assessed when Infrastructure Australia looks at the value of infrastructure projects, auditing existing infrastructure, compiling lists of infrastructure priorities and developing infrastructure plans. It also requires Infrastructure Australia to consult with the community when developing corporate plans and consider the future needs of users when providing advice to the Minister, Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments, investors in infrastructure and owners of infrastructure.

 The role of role of Infrastructure Australia is to provide advice on nationally significant infrastructure priorities by auditing, reviewing, evaluating, researching and promoting infrastructure proposals. The current Act has a strong focus on the economic and productivity considerations of infrastructure, with little attention paid to the social benefits of infrastructure proposals.

The Bill amends the Infrastructure Australia Act 2008 to require Infrastructure Australia to evaluate the social and community benefits of Infrastructure projects, giving equal treatment to the economic and productivity gains.

The intent is that, by Infrastructure Australia assessing the social benefits of infrastructure projects be benefits connectivity (including public transport) would be considered a priority for rural and regional areas as well as for freight movement.

Under the current arrangements, Infrastructure Australia consideration is heavily weighted towards the economic productivity gains of infrastructure and does not fully account for the social and community needs.

The current infrastructure priorities list includes many rail project. Among those in rural and regional Australia the focus is only on improving freight movement and not providing passenger services.

The driver for infrastructure outside of capital cities is measured in economic terms and not social good. This is unlike projects in the cities which largely focus on easing urban congestion, a clear social benefit.

For example, The Inland Rail project currently on the priority list should deliver improved passenger services, but as social benefit is not considered as part of the assessment process this will not occur.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1: Short title

 

Clause 1 is a formal provision specifying the short title of the Act.

 

Clause 2: Commencement

 

The Act commences on the day after the Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3: Schedules

 

This clause gives effect to the provisions in Schedule 1 of the Bill.

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

Item 1 inserts a new section after subparagraph 5(a)(i)

 

The section requires Infrastructure Australia to take into account the social, as well as economic, needs of rural and regional Australian communities when undertaking audits, developing lists, evaluating infrastructure proposals and developing infrastructure plans.

 

Item 2 inserts a new section after subparagraph 5A(3)

 

This section relates to the function of evaluating infrastructure proposals, the amendments require Infrastructure Australia to consider whether the proposal meets the social, as well as economic, needs of affected rural and regional communities when evaluating each proposal.

 

Item 3 inserts a new section after subparagraph 5B(1)(b)(ii)

 

This section relates to the function of developing Infrastructure Plans, the amendments require Infrastructure Australia to consider the social benefits that may be anticipated from each proposal and any complementary infrastructure required to maximise the social benefits from the proposals.

 

Item 4 inserts a new section after subparagraph 5C(1)(d)

 

This section relates to the function of providing advice on infrastructure matters, the amendments require Infrastructure Australia to consider the social issues relating to infrastructure.

 

Item 5 inserts a new section after subparagraph 5C(1)(e)

 

This section relates to providing advice on infrastructure matters, the amendments require Infrastructure Australia to consider the current and future needs of the users of infrastructure when providing advice to the Minister, Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments, investors in infrastructure and owners of infrastructure on matters relating to infrastructure.

 

Item 6 inserts a new section after subparagraph 6B(a)

 

This section relates to the consultation Infrastructure Australia must undertake in performing its functions and exercising its powers, the amendments add consultation with impacted communities.

 

Item 7 inserts a new section after subparagraph 39B(b)(i)

 

This section relates to the preparing of or varying a corporate plan, the amendments require Infrastructure Australia to consult with the community when preparing or varying a corporate plan.

 

Item 8 provides timing for commencement of the amendments.

 

This section specifies the amendments made in this schedule will apply in relation to activities begun on or after the commencement of the Schedules. Activities underway or nearing completion will not be required to apply the amendments in the schedule.

 



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Infrastructure Australia Amendment (Social Sustainability) Act 2017

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the bill

 

The purpose of the Bill is to strengthen the social and community benefit considerations that are assessed when Infrastructure Australia looks at the value of infrastructure projects, auditing existing infrastructure, compiling lists of infrastructure priorities and developing infrastructure plans.

 

Human rights implications

 

This bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms. 

 

Conclusion

 

This bill is compatible with human rights because it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

 

 

 

Cathy McGowan