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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Some projects in the $120 billion federal infrastructure investment pipeline that the Albanese government inherited from the Coalition will soon be on the chopping block.

This follows the announcement of a 90-day review of the pipeline, and sharp criticism by Infrastructure Minister Catherine King of the Coalition program.

There have been large cost escalations in many projects. Apart from inadequate costing to start with, supply chain pressures have drastically increased the costs of major projects.

The infrastructure pipeline includes rail and road projects in the capitals as well as rail and road construction and upgrades in regional and outback areas.

The government is keeping the size of the pipeline the same, but with its content changing. The review’s outcome is expected to be announced in the mid-year budget update released in December. There will not be new infrastructure projects announced in the May 9 budget.

King said the government was committed to delivering on its election promises and following through on projects now under construction.

The ambitious Brisbane to Melbourne inland railway has already been reviewed and guaranteed. The review, by Kerry Schott, recommended a number of ways to improve its delivery.

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King said that under the Coalition, the number of projects had blown out from from nearly 150 to 800.

“Projects were left without adequate funding or resources, projects without real benefits to the public were approved, and the clogged pipeline has caused delays and overruns in important, nation building projects,” she said.

Many projects never started, and some 160 had a commitment of $5 million or under.

The government needed to fix the situation. “Australia should have a pipeline of land transport infrastructure projects that are genuinely nation-building, economically sustainable and resilient to our changing climate,” King said.

The review will be done by Reece Waldock, a former director-general of the Western Australian transport department, Clare Gardiner-Barnes, a member of the Infrastructure Australia board, and Mike Mrdak, who once headed the federal infrastructure department.

States, territories and local government will be consulted in the review. It is seen as an opportunity for states to name any projects they are no longer committed to.

“A properly functioning infrastructure investment pipeline means projects can be delivered with more confidence about timeframes and budgets,” King said.

“Easing the pressure on the construction sector will help drive inflation lower and deliver more predictable investment and delivery outcomes from governments.”

Labor accuses the Coalition of using the infrastructure program for massive pork barrelling. It says when it took office only 19% of the infrastructure investment program projects with a federal government contribution under $50 million were in seats the ALP held before the election.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Some projects in $120 billion federal infrastructure pipeline set to be scrapped –