Industry Reform

Reforming Our Sector For The Benefit of All

Australia needs a sustainable construction industry with enough capability, capacity and skills to deliver and leverage the social and economic benefits of construction stimulus spending. A sustainable industry is also a more productive industry, able to achieve increased output for the same investment.

Given that the construction sector employs close to 10% of the working population and contributes 7 .2% of GDP, significant sums of money are now being invested by all levels of Government in the construction of new infrastructure to lead the economy out of a COVID-19 induced recession and to provide employment opportunities for thousands of workers made redundant from heavily impacted sectors such as retail and hospitality. The rebuilding and prosperity of our nation are therefore heavily reliant on the strength and stability of the construction industry. Reliance on an industry where profits are declining, productivity has barely improved in 20 years, cost/time over-runs are commonplace, and many projects end in contractual dispute has the potential to be problematic.

Many within the industry have long championed the need for fundamental change to the way in which projects are procured and delivered to address these problems. Initiatives such as the Construction Industry Leadership Forum (CILF) and Construction Industry Culture Taskforce (CICT) have resulted in some positive outcomes, but these initiatives intentionally don’t cover the whole of Australia and only apply to some industry sectors.

The time has therefore come for a more holistic approach to tackling the Australian construction industry’s problems; an approach that covers all.

We are leading the charge to develop a sustainable sector, through the publication of several key initiatives designed to promote debate, encourage collaboration and engage stakeholders from across the sector. The publications

  • Commitment to our Clients and the Construction Industry
  • Constructing the Future
  • Sustaining the infrastructure industry
  • Australian Constructors Association response to Infrastructure NSW scorecard

will be central to how we advocate for positive change in the sector, and to hold all parties – ourselves included – to account for our actions.

ACA hopes that we are about to see the construction sector in Australia take its first serious steps towards becoming a vibrant and sustainable industry, where high value social and economic project outcomes are delivered consistently in a collaborative and inclusive environment that is seen as a role model for other industries.

Commitment to our Clients and the Construction Industry

Australia needs a sustainable construction industry with enough capability, capacity and skills to deliver and leverage the social and economic benefits of construction stimulus spending. A sustainable industry is also a more productive industry, able to achieve increased output for the same investment. This document is ACA’s Commitment to our Clients and the Construction Industry.

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Constructing the Future

The Framework for a Sustainable Construction Industry, detailed in this document, outlines such a holistic approach and details a clear way forward for the industry for the betterment of all.

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Sustaining the infrastructure industry

Last year, Infrastructure Australia released their 2019 Infrastructure Audit. The audit investigated the major challenges for infrastructure in Australia over the next 15 years but specifically did not identify any solutions to these challenges and instead called on industry to make submissions containing recommendations as to how this could be achieved. This report is our considered response to Infrastructure Australia’s request for submissions.

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Australian Constructors Association response to Infrastructure NSW scorecard

In 2018, Infrastructure New SouthWales Government launched an Action Plan for construction in the state, which included a 10 Point Commitment to the construction sector developed with the intent of Government and the Industry coming together to improve the capability and capacity of the construction sector. This document is ACA’s response.

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A Three Pillar Approach To Change

In our Framework for a Sustainable Construction Industry, we
identified three pillars that are essential to support a sustainable
construction industry:

  • Positive Industry Culture (less conflict driven industry will drive
    higher productivity)
  • Equitable and Aligned Commercial Frameworks (benefits of projects
    are spread across all stakeholders, not captured by a few)
  • Sufficient Capacity, Capability and Skills (lifting the skill base
    of the nation)

All three pillars are equally important and interlinked. For the
construction industry to become more sustainable there needs to be
a concerted and equal focus on improving each of the three pillars.

10 Commitments To Our Clients and the Construction Industry

As an association, we and our members, have made ten commitments to reform which we are to be healed to account against for the positive changes and actions we take in leading the reform agenda. The ten commitments details will, when enacted, improve industry culture by addressing matters such as worker health and well-being, see us work more closely with clients to improve project outcomes, nurture the supply chain and increasing female participation throughout the sector.

1. Improve Outcomes for all Project Stakeholders

All participants should be aligned on achieving the same project goals and appropriately reimbursed for accomplishing them.

We commit to openly and transparently working with our Clients and industry partners to better define desired project outcomes and to identify the most appropriate procurement and commercial frameworks that will align all stakeholders’ interests to achieve them.

2. Maximising the Social and Economic Benefits of Construction

The supply chain of the construction industry is made up of many thousands of businesses from owner-operators to multinationals.

We recognise our responsibility to protect and nurture the supply chain and we commit to treating our suppliers as trusted partners.

Where possible, we will prioritise procurement from local suppliers as well as social and indigenous enterprise to maximise the economic and social benefits of the projects we construct.

3. Improve Industry Diversity

We recognise that the culture of our industry affects everything that we do.

We strongly believe that improved diversity, particularly gender diversity, will have a profound and positive impact on the culture of our industry, our interaction with key stakeholders and the success of our businesses and projects.

We commit to creating a more diverse workforce by identifying and removing the current barriers to diversity and to proactively improving the attractiveness of the industry to our future employees.

4. Improve Health and Wellbeing of the Workforce

We acknowledge that the health, and safety of the workforce, supply chain and the community are paramount. We also recognise that a sustainable industry is one in which the longer-term wellbeing of the workforce is understood, managed, and continuously improved.

We commit to proactively work together, sharing best practice across our industry to ensure we are all operating at the highest health and safety standard.

We will also work together to collectively understand the effects of our workplace culture, environment and relationships on the mental and physical health of our workforce.

5. Build Capability, Capacity and Skills

Our industry employs a large number of skilled and unskilled workers in the construction of productivity-enhancing infrastructure, playing a critical role in the health and prosperity of Australia and its citizens.

We will strive to improve both the retention of employees and permanency of employment so that as well as being an important industry for Government, construction is an attractive industry for employees with in-built capability to develop our people and equip them with critical skills.

6. Build Social Licence to Operate

Construction of new infrastructure can have significant positive and negative impacts on communities. We recognise our role to minimise the negatives, maximise the positives and to keep communities informed and involved as important project stakeholders.

We commit to improving social outcomes through the engagement of social and indigenous enterprises and will provide employment opportunities to those that have been displaced or are disadvantaged.

We commit to celebrating success and better communicating the significant positive social and economic benefits our industry generates.

7. Reduce our Impact on the Environment

We recognise that climate change is a growing concern for our workforce and the society in which we operate.

Construction of new projects has a significant impact on the environment and, whilst some impact is inevitable, there is much that can be done to reduce our footprint on the environment.

We commit to reducing carbon emissions from our activities, increasing the amount we recycle and reduce the amount we waste.

8. Strive for Improved Industrial Relations

Our workforce is our most important asset and harmonious industrial relations are vital for
project success.

We commit to improved engagement with our workforce and those that represent them.

We commit to the creation of stable employment opportunities that allow for flexible working in an inclusive and safe environment.

9. Encourage Innovation and Improve Productivity

We acknowledge that opportunities exist to significantly improve construction productivity.

We commit to working with our partners to incentivise innovation and create an environment conducive to investment in tools and processes that enhance productivity and performance. Additionally, we will engage with our workforce and those that represent them to implement more efficient work practices.

We commit to embracing digital technologies that have the potential to provide whole of life asset cost savings, and we will support the development of an Australian prefabrication industry.

10. Collaborate with All Stakeholders to Ensure Risk Pricing is Open, Transparent and Appropriate

We acknowledge that the way in which a contractor prices liability for project risks, has a significant bearing on their chances of tender success.

We commit to collaborating with all project stakeholders to identify risks early in the project procurement process, allowing time for risk to be better quantified and mitigation
strategies developed.

When risks are still unable to be quantified, we commit to open and transparent discussions to identify and agree the party best able to manage risk, the party in the best position to be financially responsible for risk and the most appropriate collaborative contractual framework to deal with risk.

Industry Case Studies

We have brought together examples of how project outcomes and performance have been improved through a collaborative approach to contract procurement and delivery which has yielded exceptional outcomes for clients, contractors and end users. Drawn from across Australia and overseas, the case studies showcase the benefits of a partnership approach.

NSW Bushfire Clean-up & Make Safe Program

The NSW Government PublicWorks Advisory (PWA) appointed Laing O’Rourke Australia to lead the clean-up of damaged and destroyed eligible properties impacted by bushfires since 1 July 2019.

This included:

  • A review and analysis of more than 8,000 pieces of data to determine the project scale.
  • The clean-up of more than 3,500 properties across NSW.
  • The management of more than 90 local subcontractors to deliver works across approx.
  • 450 localities

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Newcastle Light Rail

The Newcastle Light Rail (NLR) project is one of the most innovative and complex transport projects within Australia, and the first full catenary-free (wire-free) system in the southern hemisphere. The NLR has quickly gained world-wide attention for its revolutionary onboard energy storage system and rapid charge systems located at each of its six stations.

Downer EDIWorks (Downer) completed the track, maintenance depot, tram stops and electrical infrastructure, recording one million-man hours from commencement in August 2016, to completion in February 2019 meeting the tight 30month timeframe.

Another impressive achievement, considering the scope of the project, was completing the works, testing and commissioning and operational handover within the $252 million budget and with no recorded lost-time injuries or fatalities.

The project has received an “Excellent” ISCA rating for both design and construction.

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The New Genoa Bridge

Built in the ‘60s, the Polcevera Bridge (also called the Morandi Bridge by its designer) was considered both a modern monument to the city of Genoa and a symbol of Italian engineering. It was one of the most crucial hubs of the country’s highway network.

The abrupt collapse of the bridge in the summer of 2018 caused widespread community dismay and resulted in a rift between the western and the eastern parts of Genoa with enormous disruption to traffic. Rebuilding the bridge in the shortest time possible became a national challenge and imperative.

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Northern Connector Project South Australia

A key part of the 78 kilometre North-South Corridor, the Northern Connector is a six-lane (three lanes in each direction), 15.5 km concrete motorway, providing a vital freight and commuter link between the Northern Expressway, South Road Superway and Port River Expressway. The Northern Connector was designed to support the significant increase in population growth, road and rail freight tasks and economic expansion in the northern Adelaide region, while balancing social and environmental impacts on the broader community.

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Pacific Highway Upgrade Woolgoolga to Ballina

W2B is Australia’s largest regional infrastructure project and involves the duplication of approximately 155km of road to a four-lane divided road on the Pacific Highway.

The upgrade began 6km north ofWoolgoolga (north of Coffs Harbour) and ends approximately 6km south of Ballina.

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Bridge over the Clarence River Bulk Earthworks

Harwood Bridge will be the largest bridge to be delivered as part of the 155km Pacific Highway Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade. The new 1.5km four lane bridge will have a significant 33m clearance above the Clarence River. RMS adopted a delivery partner approach for the delivery of theWoolgoolga to Ballina upgrade and engaged Pacific Complete (JV between Laing O’Rourke and Parsons Brinckerhoff) for that role for providing project management and driving innovation.

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Level Crossing Removal Project

LXRP was established by the Victorian Government to oversee one of the largest rail infrastructure projects in the state’s history. Central to the project is the elimination of 75 level crossings across metropolitan Melbourne. LXRP is also delivering other rail network upgrades such as new train stations, track duplication and train stabling yards.

A workforce of over 5000 people is engaged in the delivery of the LXRP.

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South Eastern Program Alliance (Level Crossing Removal Program)

SEPA develops, designs and constructs level crossing removal projects in a truly collaborative contracting environment that continues to demonstrate value for money for the Victoria Government.

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Mordialloc Freeway Upgrade

New connection link between Mornington Peninsula
freeway at Springvale Road and Dingley
This includes:
9km of new two lane, dual carriageway road

At least three elevated structures over existing roads and waterways

  • Piled roadway over tip section
  • Diamond interchange at Springvale RD/Frankston Freeway
  • Significant ground improvement works
  • Flood relief structures
  • Several major signalised intersections

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Pacific Highway Upgrade Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads NSW

The project consists of the detailed design and construction of 19.6km new four lane divided road on the Pacific Highway, including two grade-separated interchanges, multiple longitudinal bridges and overbridges, an underpass of the rail line, local roads, drainage, fauna crossing structures and associated infrastructure.

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Crossrail C300/C410 Western Running Tunnels

The C300 and C410Western Running Tunnels are part of Crossrail, the largest rail engineering project in Europe. C300 comprises two 7.1m diameter, 6.2km tunnel drives between portals at Royal Oak and Farringdon Underground Stations. The tunnels were driven using two purpose-built Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) tunnelling machines and lined with precast concrete fibre reinforced segments, manufactured in a purpose-built factory at Westbourne Park. C410 included the construction of the station platform tunnels and associated passages and escalator tunnels at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, as well as the Fisher Street Shaft and the crossover tunnels.

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