Infrastructure sector needs coordinated national action on productivity & culture

Roads Australia (RA) says the Delivering Outcomes roadmap for industry reform released by Infrastructure Australia (IA) today underscores the urgent need for action to reform procurement practices and enhance industry culture.

“This report presents a practical pathway to achieve much-needed reform that will reverse declining productivity, put our industry on a more sustainable footing and ensure we have the skilled and diverse workforce that will be needed to deliver a record transport infrastructure pipeline,” said RA CEO Michael Kilgariff.

“There are many pressures now combining to create a challenging operating environment for those engaged in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of integrated transport infrastructure which are resulting in negative outcomes that include delays, cost-blowouts, labour shortages and problems attracting and retaining skilled workers.”

“Over the past two years, several industry reports have highlighted how outdated and inflexible approaches to procurement, contracting, risk allocation and workforce management are affecting industry’s ability to plan and deliver infrastructure projects. These have included RA’s own Procurement Reform Report, IA’s 2021 Infrastructure Market Capacity Report, the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce’s work to develop a Culture Standard for the industry, and the House of Representatives inquiry into procurement for government-funded infrastructure.”

“RA welcomes the considerable alignment between the key reform recommendations identified in this roadmap and reform priorities we have been pursuing over recent years. These include a greater focus on digital design and asset management, a nationally coordinated long-term project pipeline to aid planning and investment decisions, a more collaborative approach to contracting and risk allocation and supporting measures that will enhance equality and diversity across the industry’s workforce.”

“The challenges have been clearly and consistently articulated. Industry now needs the Federal Government to work with all jurisdictions to deliver consistent, nationally coordinated action that addresses the underlying causes of these problems and promotes better outcomes for industry and the community.”

“RA’s submission in the lead-up to next week’s Federal Budget pointed out opportunities for the Federal Government to invest in initiatives that will help facilitate these outcomes. This includes investing in measures that will incentivise procurement reform and establish a nationally coordinated project pipeline, support a shared data resource tracking acute skills shortages that will produce more responsive decisions around skilled migration and training.”

“We also specifically called for the Budget to support the delivery of the Construction Industry Culture Standard once finalised, so that we are building a more resilient, diverse and sustainable workforce to deliver the significant national pipeline of transport infrastructure projects.”

“Next week’s Budget is an opportunity for the Federal Government to invest in these critical measures, which will enable industry to improve its viability and productivity.”

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