Thursday 7 July 2016
South Australian engineers today warn that Government plans to extend the tram line into East Terrace to the Royal Adelaide Hospital face serious delays and cost overruns resulting from reduced engineering capacity.
The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure has culled its engineering workforce significantly over successive years, to the point where it now lacks the in-house capacity to successfully carry out key infrastructure projects.
“This tram line is a considerable investment for Government. It is also a very important infrastructure project for commuters,” said Sarah Andrews, South Australian Director of Professionals Australia.
“The Government will struggle to deliver this project on time and on budget given it has cut internal engineering capacity to the bone.
“The DPTI can only invest efficiently in infrastructure when it is an informed purchaser. Otherwise it risks wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on projects that have been poorly scoped, designed and are not delivered on time or on budget.
“Government engineers ensure public infrastructure is safe from the early stages of project design, scoping, construction right through to operation and maintenance. We know that when projects aren’t properly scoped they regularly run over budget and overtime – leading to enormous waste.
“Successive State Governments have made the short-sighted decision to cull in-house engineers, preferring to outsource. Given the de-skilling within the DPTI, many engineers have expressed real concern that the Department is not capable of effectively scoping projects and as result cannot act as an informed purchaser.
“Time and time again, we have heard the government say it is investing in infrastructure, yet at the same time it is decreasing its own engineering capacity.
“It is simply not good enough to just pour taxpayers’ money into new infrastructure projects if they insist on continuing to reduce government engineers. The government must make sure they are also maintaining and building the workforce capable of delivering these projects.
“The Government has a clear responsibility to make sure that it can deliver infrastructure in the most efficient and cost-effective way for South Australians. It must look seriously at how it can restore its internal engineering skills and capacity,” said Ms Andrews.
Professionals Australia’s Better Infrastructure report found 80% of engineers believe Governments no longer have sufficient in-house expertise to avoid wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars across both capital and maintenance projects.
“We urge the Weatherill Government to commit to restoring its in-house engineering capability. This is the only way the Government can avoid wasting millions of taxpayer funds, and successfully deliver important projects such as this tram for the community,” said Ms Andrews.
Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0481 751 579