Earthmoving Industry Insight

State governments offer clear path forward for infrastructure projects

State governments have been commended for standardised contracts and the transparency of their project pipelines

NSW and Vic have changed their approach to infrastructure projects

Both the New South Wales and Victoria state governments are changing the way they are developing infrastructure, an industry survey has revealed.

Findings from the Construction Industry Scorecard, commissioned by the Australian Constructors Association, found infrastructure bodies in both states had shifted their approaches for the delivery of projects in the construction pipeline.

The survey was conducted across the country’s major constructors and with performance marked against NSW’s 10-point commitment to the construction sector. In all, 26 projects from across the two states were surveyed, most of which were valued between $201 million and $500 million.

The findings suggest the governments have improved in nine of the 10 commitment areas – industry diversity being the only commitment that didn’t show any improvement.

Across the 10 commitment areas, the greatest improvements were seen in the standardising of contracts and procurement methods, establishment of consistent government policy and development and promotion of a transparent pipeline of projects.

The commitments were graded across three scales – room for improvement, matching expectations and exceeding expectations. Pipeline transparency is now exceeding expectations while the remaining 90 per cent of commitments are now matching expectations.

ACA chief executive Jon Davies says the standardisation of contracts and increased transparency were among the biggest improvements made.

“The greatest improvements have been recorded against the government’s commitments to standardise contracts and procurement methods, and develop a transparent pipeline of projects,” Davies says.

“In fact, the transparency of the pipeline is now exceeding expectations.

“Face-to-face interactive briefings with industry have been well received and helped to elicit industry feedback on the market’s capacity to deliver the forward pipeline, along with options for packaging and phasing of projects.

“The model used by Major Road Projects Victoria, which is based on delivering a package of projects across panel contractors, is a great example of government collaborating with industry and providing good visibility of upcoming projects.”

The improvements made across the construction sector are said to deliver better value for taxpayers while also supporting a more sustainable construction industry.

However, the ACA recognised the need for improved diversity within the construction sector; namely in its commitment to increased female representation.

“The culture standard seeks to improve the culture of the industry including making it an attractive place to work — particularly for women,” Davies says.

“With the construction industry missing out on employing approximately half the working population, immediate action is needed to reverse the decline in industry diversity.

“The challenge is for the industry culture to change to attract and retain a more diverse workforce, including women.

“Achieving this reform by leveraging government procurement practices is preferred to quotas that don’t alleviate the underlying issues and can have unintended consequences such as increasing the cost of construction.”

In its findings, the ACA also called upon the federal government to establish a national industry collaborative leadership group, suggesting the federal government is best placed to address the productivity challenges faced by the industry.

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