The Australian Constructors Association welcomes the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan released by Infrastructure Australia today.
Australian Constructors Association CEO Jon Davies said the pandemic has created a once in a generation opportunity for reform and there has never been a more important time for a plan like this.
“All levels of government are relying on the construction industry to lead the economy forward on the basis that every dollar spent on infrastructure has a $3 kick on to the wider economy—but our industry is broken,” said Mr Davies.
“Construction accounts for almost 25 per cent of all insolvencies in Australia, only 12 per cent of the workforce are women and construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than a workplace incident.
“The Infrastructure Plan contains good recommendations that, if enacted, would improve industry culture, create increased capacity and capability, and ensure that commercial frameworks are equitable and align the interests of all parties.
“What we need now is for the Federal Government to get more involved.
“As the direct procurer of major projects and as a significant source of funding for jurisdictionally led projects, the Federal Government is best placed to coordinate and incentivise reform—and it needs to do this now.
“We cannot afford to wait 5, 10 or 15 years, the record spend is happening now, companies are going out of business now, people are leaving our industry now.”
Reflecting on the recent report outlining the progress made since the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan, the Australian Constructors Association fears a similar lack of progress in improving productivity and implementing market-based reform will be a huge missed opportunity.
“Carrying with it a 5–10-year timeframe for implementation, one of the key recommendations identified in the plan is to improve industry productivity and value for money,” said Mr Davies.
“Productivity growth of construction over the last 30 years trails that of other significant industries by 25 per cent.
“If we could just halve the gap in productivity growth, we could be constructing an extra $15 billion of infrastructure every year for the same level of expenditure and employ an extra 15,000 people.
“We welcome the recommendation to use common and best practice commercial arrangements, standard contract forms and delivery approaches yet the target of a 10–15-year time horizon for 80 per cent of projects over $250 million to use a nationally standard contract suite is too long.
“If we wait even five years to progress this reform action, we will miss the opportunity.”
“The much talked about government and industry collaborative leadership group is another example where a 5–10-year timeframe has been outlined yet this recommendation could easily be implemented within months if the Government was minded to do so.
“The leash is too long—the Federal Government needs to take control.”
The Australian Constructors Association congratulates Infrastructure Australia on its extensive collaboration with industry in the development of the Plan. The recommendations are evidence of a strong engagement program.
“Infrastructure Australia has played its part,” Mr Davies said.
“It is now over to the Federal Government to ensure the report doesn’t gather dust on the shelves.
“The entire industry is ready and waiting to support the government in implementing these reforms.”
Recording – Jon Davies CEO Australian Constructors Association commenting on the plan
2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan