Infrastructure in Australia during COVID-19: Q&A with Romilly Madew AO


The 2020 National Infrastructure Online Conference will be held 13 October -12 November, as a 6 part webinar series.

The conference keynote is an update on the infrastructure sector from Romilly Madew AO, CEO, Infrastructure Australia. In this address, Romilly will cover topics including:

  • The role of Infrastructure Australia
  • The Infrastructure Priority List and the Assessment Framework
  • What constitutes projects of ‘national significance’
  • Why we support a staged infrastructure led COVID recovery response

We caught up with Romilly ahead of her keynote address, and asked her a couple of key questions about infrastructure in the current COVID-19 landscape.

Q&A with Romilly Madew AO

Why is your address important for those in the industry or tax specialists and their clients today?

Maintaining a pipeline of nationally-significant infrastructure investments should be a priority as we look to manage the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. But while recovery should be focused on jobs and economic growth, we also need to think about the future we want to create, and plan for the changing ways we consume infrastructure.

Even before COVID-19, the fundamentals were already shifting, and the pandemic has only accelerated the path of change. COVID-19 has shown we need to think differently how we plan for times of uncertainty. Beyond capital projects, we need to focus on reform to shape Australia’s long-term recovery response.

How has the global pandemic changed the Australian infrastructure landscape?

Infrastructure is uniquely placed to support Australia in its recovery from a rolling series of crises, including drought, flood, bushfires and now COVID-19.

The evolving impacts of COVID-19 remain front of mind at Infrastructure Australia, as we look to progress investments and reforms that enable the long-term sustainability of the infrastructure sector, build community resilience and support the transformation of the Australian economy.

This is a unique period of uncertainty for the sector. We are facing border delays, supply chain vulnerability, reduced private sector expenditure, reduced site access and face-to-face activities, reduced access to overseas manufactured goods and limited staff availability due to illness or quarantine.

At the same time, COVID-19 has accelerated changes in the way we use infrastructure, impacting work practices, settlement patterns, activity in our CBDs, public transport use and demand for active transport infrastructure, as we shift even further towards digitisation and remote service delivery.

Infrastructure Australia, along with our state and territory colleagues, support a staged recovery response. We have proposed a four stage response.

Four stage recovery response from Infrastructure Australia

  1. Protect the current pipeline – this is underway, with work continuing in the sector through COVID and the direct impacts minimised.
  2. Mobilise – with investment in maintenance and the extension of existing projects underway, and the opportunity to commence new projects in the context of the Federal and State Budgets
  3. Accelerate – this includes accelerated environmental approvals, decision making and procurement – this is also underway, including enhancements to our own Assessment Framework
  4. Reform – with a strong focus on jobs and economic activity

About the 2020 National Infrastructure Online Conference

The 2020 National Infrastructure Online Conference will kick start next week 13 October 2020. To find out more about the state of Infrastructure in Australia today, register to attend!

Register now Download the brochure Find out more


About Romilly Madew AO

Romilly Madew

Romilly Madew AO was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Infrastructure Australia in early 2019. She is responsible for overseeing Infrastructure Australia’s critical role in helping governments prioritise projects and reforms that best serve our communities.

Before joining Infrastructure Australia, Romilly was CEO of Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) for 13 years. She is also currently a Commissioner for the Northern Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission, Member of Placemaking NSW Advisory Committee and Independent Chair of the Currawong State Park Advisory Board (NSW).


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