Engineers have welcomed the Victorian Government’s investment in infrastructure but say that with current levels of in-house government engineering capacity, there will be $1.5 billion of waste.
Tuesday, 6 May 2014
Professionals Australia has welcomed the Victorian Government’s investment in infrastructure but says that with existing levels of in-house government engineering capacity, the Government is set to waste $1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money in the next twelve months.
Victoria’s engineers have welcomed the Napthine Government’s investment in infrastructure in its May Budget, but have questioned the Government’s capacity to deliver so many big projects with government engineering capacity slashed and already stretched to the limit.
In handing down the Budget, Treasurer Michael O’Brien announced a ten year investment of $27 billion in infrastructure, with $7.5 billion allocated for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Mr Walton said while Professionals Australia welcomed total infrastructure investment rising from $6.1 billion this year to $7.5 billion next year, he was concerned that with current levels of government engineering capacity, taxpayers would face footing the bill for waste of around 20 per cent on projects announced today.
“Research shows that governments who are not informed purchasers, by not having enough engineers to scope and manage projects, blow their budgets by 20 per cent.
“With the commitments it has made in this Budget, the Victorian Government is set to waste $1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money in the next twelve months. In other words, with what the Government will waste, they could deliver much more of the roads and rail that the community is crying out for.
“We are also concerned that with so many large-scale projects promised and only limited government capacity to design, scope and manage, the public is set to be disappointed when projects become delayed or even shelved.
“There will be further cost blowouts, because so many large projects on the market at the same time will strain the available construction resources, such as tunnellers and other civil construction resources. Its economics 101, lots of demand and limited supply, will see cost go up – exponentially.
“You have to ask, when things get stuck, because of the Government’s lack of capacity to deliver these projects, and something has to come off the list, will they even build the Airport Rail Link?
“If the Government is serious about delivering on these promises they will have to employ more engineers to scope and manage the projects extremely quickly.
“There is no way they can responsibly put these projects to market by the end of this year and start construction by the end of next year without rehiring the engineers they have cut in recent years.
“While you can rely on private sector engineers to help deliver infrastructure projects you cannot put consultants in charge of scoping and project management. Unfortunately the Victorian Government has cut its engineers to the point where they are no longer an informed purchaser of infrastructure.
“Given this announcement it beggars belief that they cut more than 150 of the most experienced roads engineers, equating to more than 1000 years of engineering experience, from VicRoads in the past two years.
Mr Walton called on the Victorian Government to deliver an engineering workforce plan to better plan for the future, and to quarantine its engineers from any cuts for the next five years.