The 2021-22 Federal Budget, delivered by Treasurer of Australia, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP on 11 May 2021, will continue to strengthen the role of Australia’s construction industry.
The Budget will inject a record $110 billion investment in infrastructure over 10 years, which will deliver nation-building infrastructure projects, water security to inland Australia, meeting the national freight challenge and getting Australians home sooner and safer.
The investment includes an additional $15.2 billion in new commitments to infrastructure projects, supporting an estimated 30,000 jobs across Australia. The major infrastructure projects that will be part of the investment include:
- $2 billion for Great Western Highway Upgrade – Katoomba to Lithgow – Construction of East and West Sections in New South Wales;
- $2 billion investment to deliver a new Melbourne Intermodal Terminal;
- $400 million for Bruce Highway Additional Funding in Queensland;
- $237.5 million for METRONET: Hamilton Street / Wharf Street Grade Separations and Elevation of Associated Stations in Western Australia;
- $161.6 million for the Truro Bypass in South Australia;
- $150 million for National Network Highway Upgrades (Phase 2) in the Northern Territory;
- $80 million for Bass Highway Safety and Freight Efficiency Upgrades in Tasmania; and
- $26.5 million for William Hovell Drive Duplication in the Australian Capital Territory.
The Australian Constructors Association (ACA) CEO, Jon Davies, said the Government’s commitment to infrastructure brings an opportunity for major productivity improvements.
“These improvements have the potential for Australia to construct an extra $15 billion of infrastructure every year for the same level of expenditure and employ an extra 15,000 people,” Mr Davies said.
“With a big job ahead of us, workforce capability and capacity will be vital to deliver the project pipeline.”
“In an industry where only 12 per cent of the workforce are women, we are missing out on employing nearly 50 per cent of the working population,” he said.
“There is a real opportunity to address capability and capacity constraints by making our industry more attractive to women.”
The ACA welcomed the childcare affordability provisions in this year’s Budget.
“These provisions are an important step towards gender equity in the construction industry,” Mr Davies said.
To further improve the sustainability of the construction industry and unlock productivity enhancements, the ACA recommends the Federal Government take a more active role in defining and incentivising the use of best practice procurement and delivery processes.
“Adversarial commercial frameworks negatively impact on culture and a positive industry culture is a key factor in attracting people into the industry,” Mr Davies said.
“The Construction Playbook, published by the British Government, is a good example of how reform can be achieved in Australia.”
“A Playbook is a best practice guide that would see projects awarded on best value rather than lowest cost, procurement decisions based on project specifics rather than market cycles, and factors causing poor diversity and mental health addressed,” he said.
“Previous approaches at achieving best practices through discrete programs have not brought about widespread change.”
Mr Davies said to generate nation-wide adoption of the Playbook, states could be positively incentivised to use it by becoming eligible to share in the savings that would accrue from the adoption of best practice.
“The adoption of a Playbook mandated by the Federal Government would be transformational,” he commented.
“Reforming the construction industry is not just about reducing costs and creating jobs, it is about creating a sustainable industry where workers thrive, and innovation is embraced.”