All sectors of the industry—building, construction and infrastructure—are in crisis. Many suffer from some of the highest rates of insolvencies in Australia and productivity growth over the last 30 years trails other significant industries by 25 per cent. Further, women make up just 12 per cent of the workforce and workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than a workplace incident. For these, and other reasons, the industry is struggling to attract and retain sufficient people to undertake the future pipeline of work.

How projects are procured is a major contributor to the sustainability problem, but it is also a problem that can be readily addressed if all parties agreed on the need to do this. The unprecedented investment in infrastructure following the COVID-19 pandemic provides that need.

Recognising the seriousness of the situation, the Australian Constructors Association provided an individual submission as well as a joint letter signed by 14 of the nation’s key industry bodies calling for urgent reform in response the Federal Government’s Inquiry into Procurement practices for government-funded infrastructure. We are all aligned in our views that reforms aimed at improving industry culture, increasing capacity/capability, and ensuring that project commercial frameworks are equitable and align with the interests of all parties are needed urgently.

If we could just halve the gap in productivity growth between construction and other major industries we could construct an extra $15 billion of infrastructure every year and employ an extra 15,000 people for the same level of investment. That is the equivalent of almost three Western Sydney airports extra, every year.

The Federal Government, as a direct procurer of major projects and as a significant source of funding for jurisdictionally led projects, can play a major role in resolving these issues and supporting the sustainability of the sector and its supply chain. Reform of the magnitude required will only happen through greater collaboration across all levels of government and in consultation with industry.

View the ACA submission.

View the open letter.

View the media release.