2. Sources of candidate initiatives

2.1 From the ATAP Framework

The ATAP Framework presents an objectives-led strategic planning process for identifying transport strategies and plans, from which arise consistent proposed initiatives. This was discussed in F1 to F3. Justified proposals arising from that process will have:

  • Been based on a systematic, rigorous and evidence-based assessment of problems and options
  • Demonstrated strategic alignment with transport system objectives and targets
  • Demonstrated their triple bottom line economic justification.

In practice, proposed transport initiatives often also arise from three other sources: agencies operating in other areas of government, the private sector and the community through the political process. It is essential that these other proposals also be developed with exactly the same level of assessment rigour before they are considered in any prioritisation processes. Proponents outside the strategic planning process should be clearly advised of this requirement.

The three other sources of proposals are briefly discussed below.

2.2 Agencies operating in other areas of government

Operational areas of government transport agencies sometimes submit ‘bottom-up’ proposals for transport initiatives outside the strategic planning process. Agencies often have regional offices that are aware of local conditions and requirements. However, these agencies may not necessarily be directly involved in broader strategic planning processes, except for being consulted as stakeholders.

Government agencies without direct involvement in transport may also seek support and funding for transport initiatives. For example, a regional development agency might propose upgrading a road to a remote community as part of a strategy to improve living standards in the region. In these circumstances, proposals should be considered in the context of the broader strategic planning process. However, the extent to which an integrated approach can be achieved may be affected by factors such as the involvement of multiple ministers and agencies and the relative importance of non-transport objectives (e.g. defence).

2.3 Private sector

In Australia, governments were traditionally the major provider of transport infrastructure services. However, the private sector now has a substantial role in infrastructure provision and associated transport activities and service provision.

Private sector organisations or individuals (singly or in partnership) may prepare transport proposals for their own investment or submit proposals to government for approval or a funding contribution. These proposals may be based on an examination of transport system strategies or on perceptions and aspirations independent of these strategies.

The activities of private sector organisations necessarily include a focus on objectives such as revenue and profit maximisation that may differ significantly from government objectives such as equity and environmental quality. Private sector proposals that require government approval or funding should therefore be required to meet the same standards of assessment as those that arise through the ATAP Guidelines. Consistency will be maximised if the private sector is aware of, and has access to, relevant objectives, policies and strategies, and the ATAP Guidelines process.

It is also important to have specific procedures for the submission and consideration of private sector proposals (see Appendix B). State and territory government jurisdictions have well-developed procedures for private sector participation in the delivery of public infrastructure services and for assessing unsolicited proposals that may or may not require additional government funding. These procedures also provide guidance for financial assessment by government of proposals submitted on a solicited or unsolicited basis by the private sector. Appendix B provides a discussion on unsolicited private sector proposals.

Appendix B provides a further discussion on the reasons why governments may wish to support an initiative that is not financially viable, and procedures for handling unsolicited proposals.

2.4 Political process

Ministers have the final say over the composition of transport programs funded by their jurisdictions. Councils have the final say over of transport programs funded by their local government areas.

In some cases, priority proposals will be identified through, for example, policy commitments made as platform responses to community demands. Initiatives may also be proposed if the objectives identified in Step 1 are not specified in sufficient detail to reflect all of the government’s objectives and priorities. Objectives and priorities may sometimes change so rapidly (e.g. following a change of government) that they initially outpace the adjustment of the system planning process.

Other areas of the political system may generate transport proposals. For example, local government may identify initiatives that reflect the perspectives of the local community. In addition, parliamentary committees examining transport or other issues (e.g. regional development, defence) may recommend particular transport initiatives. Finally, ministers may receive transport proposals from other stakeholders as they interact directly with the community.