In welcoming the Victorian Government’s announcement to build the Melbourne airport rail link, engineers have called on the government to boost its engineering capacity in the May budget.
Sharelle Herrington director of Professional Engineers Australia said that Investment in engineering capacity would ensure this project is delivered on time, on budget and serves the community’s needs well.
“Engineers welcome the government’s announcement to build the airport rail link. The government has a great opportunity to get this project right, however it needs to make proper investment in engineering capacity – to ensure it is designed, scoped and delivered properly.
Ms Herrington said that engineers were pivotal to the success of large-scale infrastructure projects such as the airport rail link.
“There is a direct link between the Government having the appropriate levels of engineering and technical expertise in their agencies from the outset, and achieving this rail link on time and on budget.
“With adequate engineering knowledge and capacity, the Government can deliver Victorians a very important piece of infrastructure – without bankrupting taxpayers.
“We know what happens where there is not enough engineering knowledge and expertise in government agencies – governments become uninformed purchasers. They simply don't know what they are buying and the private sector is able to name their price.
Research from consultants Blake Dawson found that inadequate engineering capacity on large infrastructure projects (over $1bn) typically results in cost blowouts of 20 per cent. On a $1bn project, there will typically be $200m in waste. This equates to $7bn being wasted across Australia annually – with taxpayers' footing the bill.
“Current estimations put this rail link at around $3bn, so our research suggests that without adequate engineering capacity this project could cost taxpayers an extra $600m.
“Engineers don't want to see Victorians suffer unnecessary and expensive levels of waste on the airport rail link.
“Engineers are calling on the government to act sensibly, to not cut corners, and to ensure this project is set-up to succeed.
“In reality, engineers are taxpayers' best friends. Engineers use their professional skills to fix problems, find solutions and make things work.
“Given the size and scale of this project, it is vital that the Government does everything it can from the outset to avoid waste, delays and cost-blowouts.
“As a State, we can't afford to waste a single dollar on infrastructure spending in the current climate.
“Engineers are calling on the Government to make a clear commitment in the May Budget that it has sufficient engineering capacity in-house to scope, design and deliver this project.