Professional Engineers Australia has called on the O’Farrell Government to make an urgent investment in engineering capacity at roads agency Roads and Maritime Services (RMS)
Professional Engineers Australia has called on the O’Farrell Government to make an urgent investment in engineering capacity at roads agency Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), to ensure taxpayers get value for money in the delivery of large scale road infrastructure projects such as North Connex, following the announcement of the award of the unsolicited/non-competitive tender on the weekend.
Professionals Engineers Australia director Paul Davies said that successive government cuts had been “penny wise, pound stupid”, with the roads agency now struggling to maintain effective oversight of big projects important to both the economy and the community.
“Engineers are very concerned that successive government cuts mean that RMS no longer has sufficient in-house engineering expertise to ensure the Government and taxpayers get value for money when it comes to large road projects.
“Engineers know how to design, scope and deliver roads. If the government continues to cut in-house engineering knowledge and expertise, RMS will no longer be an intelligent customer. It simply won’t know what it is buying.
“Worse still, it will be the taxpayer that will pick up the bill when projects are scoped badly, experience cost blowouts, become delayed due to variations and waste escalates through lengthy disputation with contractors.
“We are concerned that RMS has already lost 20 per cent of its engineering workforce through a recent restructure. Now the government is moving to abolish the Professional Engineers Award, the instrument that provides terms and conditions of employment and sets the benchmark for the road engineering industry.
In a recent Australian National Engineering Taskforce (ANET) survey, 93 per cent of private and public sector engineers said that they believed that the governments (of all types) lack essential engineering capacity to deliver projects on time and on budget.
Research undertaken by Blake Dawson in 2008, and confirmed by the Senate inquiry into the shortage of engineering skills in Australia (2012), showed that insufficient in-house engineering capacity resulted in 26 per cent of projects over $1 billion running more than $200 million over budget.
“When you consider the $3 billion North Connex Motorway project, insufficient engineering capacity at RMS could equate to taxpayers’ facing a $600 million bill, when the reality is that we can’t afford to waste a single dollar.
“If Prime Minister Abbott and Premier O’Farrell want to be recognised for their delivery of infrastructure, they need to get serious about building in-house engineering capacity, RMS is a pivotal place to start.
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