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NCEC 2018

Building the infrastructure of the future

Posted on July 4th, 2018 in Local State Government

Australia’s population is estimated to exceed 30 million by 2030 and 38 million by 2050, up from around 24.8 million today.

The projected growth of major and regional cities is already influencing future-proof infrastructure designs as local and state governments lay the foundations for a sustainable future.

Unclogging congestion

More people means more vehicles on the roads and more congestion unless transport infrastructure is skillfully designed to ease this. Infrastructure Australia predicts that congestion will cost the economy $53 billion by 2031, with car travel times more than doubling in some state capitals under the current system.

The traditional approaches to constructing more highways and expanding existing ones with extra lanes haven’t always been successful in keeping up with this demand. Fresh ideas are needed, which requires an understanding of the types of vehicles these roads will be servicing.

Autonomous freight

It’s not only commuters that will be using these roads, but freight services too. Land freight is set to increase by 86 percent by 2031, not only in the transport of agricultural goods and minerals but also home deliveries as online shopping becomes the dominant retail preference.

Consulting firm McKinsey predicts that e-commerce will drive the autonomous vehicle boom, with 40 percent of traffic being self-driving by 2030 and over two-thirds of all vehicles being electric. This will allow for more efficient road design, though it remains to be seen whether drivers will be willing to give up the controls of their own vehicles in the name of efficiency.

Regional growth

The big cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth – will account for around three-quarters of population growth in the years ahead. The smaller capitals and regional cities need to be highlighted as competitive alternatives to attract their share of this growth and ease the strain on infrastructure.

Connectivity between regional centers is the key to this growth, particularly in Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin and fast-growing cities like Newcastle, Geelong, Wollongong, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

Sustainable infrastructure

Sustainability is a priority in all areas of construction, especially for local governments that need to serve the community interest and deliver on the federal government’s environmental commitments.

Australia emits more greenhouse gas per capita than any other developed country, with civil engineering and construction being among its biggest offenders. The construction industry is also responsible for around one-third of the nation’s solid waste. Local governments need to explore sustainable construction methods, materials, and technologies to save energy, reduce waste and lower the overall impact of infrastructure projects.

Who will fund the future?

With government grants being insufficient to fund the ambitious infrastructure required, local and state governments need to be more willing to embrace private investment and innovation.

Infrastructure needs to be depoliticised to make sure the money goes where it’s needed most and to break down the barriers to a connected tomorrow.

Talk to industry leaders at NCEC

Find out more about the opportunities and challenges facing local and state governments at the National Construction Equipment Convention (NCEC).

This three-day platform covers all aspects of civil construction and infrastructure and gives attendees the chance to interact face-to-face with key industry figures. This year’s conference takes place at Sydney Showground from 15-17 November 2018.

Visit for full details


Infrastructure Australia. Australian Infrastructure Audit.

McKinsey & Company. An integrated perspective on the future of mobility.