Spending on roads infrastructure is up across the country, raising crucial questions about how these monies will be spent and what safeguards are in place to ensure minimal waste.
Roads infrastructure hit $4 billion in the first quarter of 2014, following federal government incentives for “asset recycling”.
The Federal government is offering incentives to states that sell off public assets and use the proceeds to fund new infrastructure. A recent example is the NSW government decision to sell off 50 per cent of its electricity distribution networks in order to fund roads and rail development.
Professionals Australia warmly greets transport infrastructure investment, especially in Sydney where transport access is a long-acknowledged policy gap. But there is a pressing need to ensure that there is sufficient skill and expertise to deliver these projects safely, efficiently and on-budget.
Paul Davies, NSW Director of Professionals Australia explains that a lack of engineers in the public sector, and pressure on the private sector through lowest-price contracting, leads to waste of time and money, as well as increasing public safety risks. Research by the Australian National Engineering Taskforce, for example, showed that major transport infrastructure projects run around 20 per cent over budget, costing the Australian economy an estimated $6 billion per year.
Professionals Australia is working with our membership and with government agencies to implement programs for workforce development, and to change procurement models to guarantee engineering capacity. With the huge projects coming down the pipeline, governments can not afford to leave the gap in engineering capacity unfilled.