The Australian transport sector is expected to see significant growth in 2014 to the tune of billions of dollars. Both road and non-road developments will be expanding, and experts are optimistic that this trend will continue for several years to come.
A five percent increase by the end of 2014 and a 12.5 percent increase by 2015 in transit construction work has already been projected. Transport spending in 2013/2014 is expected to reach nearly $36 billion. Some of the major growth areas include Queensland and Victoria, where both road and non-road construction will be on the rise, but non-road developments in New South Wales and Western Australia are expected to be growth areas as well.
However, there are some growing concerns facing this sector. The development of roads, rails, bridges and tunnels is costing Australian taxpayers a hefty sum due to a lack of organisation and mismanagement.
The High Cost Of Infrastructure Development
One of Australia's pressing problems is the high cost of infrastructure development, and the design and construction industry has been actively battling this issue. The inefficiency in execution and procurement of public projects is apparently costing taxpayers anywhere from $6 - 7 billion a year.
The construction industry is urging the state governments and Commonwealth to revise the way larger projects are being managed. Governments have been outsourcing much of the infrastructure work that is being done, but they are not employing enough workers to procure projects and give adequate progress reports.
Professional Australia CEO Chris Walton noted that missed deadlines and blown budgets are the norm, and it is a cause of great frustration. Developing infrastructure is an important responsibility and priority of governments. And yet, Walton added that cutting the people who are critical to saving costs with infrastructure project management is asinine.
Walton also advocated the need for a new approach to managing and maintaining infrastructure. He suggested that the government should have its own expertise so that it doesn't have to invest as much effort into public deception.
Senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese has had first-hand experience in mismanagement of infrastructure projects. When he became the infrastructure minister in 2007, he asked how many planners there were, and found out that there were none. He wanted to take steps towards reversing this trend, but he came under great pressure to keep outsourcing. He asserted that these cost-cutting measures are indeed counterproductive.
According to the Civil Contractors Federation, if the government is interested in reducing the cost of infrastructure, the dominance of major construction firms has to be addressed. CEO Robert Row noted that small and medium sized contractors should be considered for these projects for the sake of greater industry participation in Australia.
The issue is clear. Infrastructure development in Australia needs to be more streamlined and optimised to be cost and time efficient.
Jaime Briggs is confident that there will be big changes to the infrastructure sector, with Tony Abbott desiring to be known as the infrastructure prime minister. Overall efficiency and productivity are expected to be made greater priorities for future developments.