Professionals Australia notes record spending on state infrastructure projects in today’s NSW budget and calls on the NSW government to value the critical role its own engineers play in delivering projects on time, on budget.
“Smart infrastructure investment requires expertise. The NSW Government has down-sized internal engineering expertise across all departments,” said Paul Davies, Director of Professionals Australia in NSW.
“It is risky business to be spending up big on public construction while at the same time cutting engineering jobs within NSW Government ranks.
“We see $68.6 billion allocated to road and transport infrastructure in this budget, but no clear plan to make sure new public infrastructure is efficiently procured and overseen by government engineers. Without sufficient government expertise we inevitably see waste, project over-runs and cost blow-outs.
“Contracts on the Nortwest Rail link have already blown-out by $50 million and Skytrain construction has been delayed by months. These overruns and delays could have been avoided if departmental expertise had have been dedicated to proper scoping of the project.
“This budget also announces a $20 billion ‘Rebuilding NSW’ plan funded from the lease of the NSW electricity network.
“Big infrastructure projects like those announced today are a black hole for tax-payer dollars if they are poorly managed. Good governance of taxpayer funded infrastructure projects only ensues when we have skilled professionals within government to oversee project delivery.
“Professionals Australia would like to see a new Office of the Chief Engineer inside the New South Wales Department of Planning to address inefficiencies and oversee project delivery.
“Our Better Infrastructure campaign is about making sure expertise exists within government to guarantee good advice and strategic planning services, proper project development and appropriate land acquisition, contract management and procurement, then of course, the actual project construction and ongoing asset maintenance.
“Today’s infrastructure announcements will only mean real productivity dividends for the taxpayer if the NSW Government commits to maintaining a professional workforce capable of planning and delivering key projects,” said Mr Davies.