Wednesday, 4 May 2016
The Federal Government’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure spend must be backed by the best impartial advice to make sure taxpayer funds are not wasted.
Professionals Australia, the association representing science, technology and engineering professionals, said the announced infrastructure funds in the Federal Budget risks being undermined if the Government keeps culling in-house engineering expertise and playing politics with infrastructure projects.
“The Government needs to realise that the most effective infrastructure delivery isn’t simply about spending up big. They need to make sure that any money invested is used in the most effective way and will deliver the greatest benefit for the taxpayer. That means retaining internal expertise and relying on that expertise to pick projects,” said Chris Walton, CEO of Professionals Australia.
Recent research conducted for Professionals Australia found:
- 75% of respondents thought impartial advice on the best projects was important;
- 77% favoured a bipartisan approach;
- Just 46% thought privatisation was important.
“The bedrock of delivering the infrastructure Australia needs is engineers, and in particular government engineers. But unfortunately, successive government have hacked away at our precious engineering expertise, meaning the government is free to play politics and make just plain dumb decisions.
“The Productivity Commission estimates lack of engineering capacity in government is costing $6.2 billion every year. The average cost blowout is 6.5 percent across all projects and 12.7 percent for major projects. These cost overruns are entirely avoidable and amount to a ridiculous burden on the public purse.
“Government engineers play a critical role in making sure the right projects are chosen, they are correctly scoped, designed and project managed. More engineers in government and the public sector saves money and improves public safety.
“Our report Better Infrastructure, found that 80% of engineers believe that governments no longer have sufficient in-house expertise to avoid wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars.
“If the Government is truly committed to promoting an ‘ideas boom’ and supporting jobs and growth as the Treasurer claimed in his Budget speech, it needs to make sure that it has the internal capacity to deliver the best infrastructure in the most cost-effective way.
“We will continue to see taxpayer funds wasted unless the Turnbull Government commits to retaining and building engineering capabilities,” said Mr Walton.
Media contact: Jessica Kendall 0414 679 857