Professionals Australia today is calling on the West Australian Government to urgently address the state’s poor road maintenance records by restoring its internal engineering skills and capacity.
The call comes following a report released this week by the auditor-general which finds Western Australia is facing a huge $846 million backlog of overdue road maintenance.
Sarah Andrews, spokesperson for Professionals Australia said the report confirms concerns from engineers across the state and highlights the consequences of the shortsighted decision to cull government engineers.
“It’s clear that road maintenance in WA is in a state of crisis,” said Ms Andrews. “Western Australia urgently needs a preventive road maintenance strategy but currently lacks the capacity to oversee it.
“We know that poor road maintenance leads to dangerous roads. We need to do more than patch up potholes. We need a strategic approach to deal with maintenance rather than waiting for problems to become critical before addressing them.
“For years roads engineers have been warning the government that there is a desperate need for a greater strategic investment in maintenance.
“The report rightly identifies Main Roads as having failed to adequately manage its skills and knowledge gaps. And to make matters worse there is no workforce development plan to address skills and knowledge shortages.
“Maintenance is particularly important considering the average age of the road network past its design life has increased. Currently 46% of the network is over 40 years old.
“The Government has a clear responsibility to make sure it uses taxpayer’s money in the most effective way it can and minimises waste. Unfortunately the state government has decided to reduce its internal engineering capacity – preferring to outsource this crucial capacity,” said Ms Andrews.
Government engineers ensure public infrastructure is safe from the early stages of project design, scoping, construction right through to operation and maintenance.
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 Barnett Government to rebuild WA’s crumbling roads network and commit to building its in-house engineering capability. This is the only way the Government can avoid wasting millions of taxpayer funds, and get the safest result for our community,” said Ms Andrews.
Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0481 751 579