The Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra is one of the projects highlighted by Infrastructure Australia © Getty Images
The Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra is one of the projects highlighted by Infrastructure Australia © Getty Images

Procurement processes ‘must adapt’ for complex projects

17 August 2020

A trade association has called for improvements in how contracts are procured and delivered to help the construction sector recover from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Australian Constructors Association (ACA) welcomed the release of Infrastructure Australia’s mid-cycle update but said more must be done to improve the sector’s long-term sustainability.

The updated edition of Infrastructure Australia’s 2020 Priority List showcased 155 infrastructure proposals and an extended investment pipeline worth more than $64bn to help the country’s recovery after Covid and the devastating bush fires of the past year.

ACA CEO Jon Davies said the update reinforced “the critical role that construction of infrastructure will play in the nation’s post-Covid economic recovery”.

However, the ACA added that in recent years projects had become substantially bigger, more complex and higher risk while procurement processes, contract mechanisms and terms had mostly stayed the same.

Davies said: “The consequence is an extremely challenging and adversarial operating environment which in turn is driving productivity down, raising the cost of infrastructure and making the industry a less attractive destination for labour and capital.”

The ACA is calling on stakeholders to drive change by continuing to focus on the implementation of key initiatives such as the Construction Industry Leadership Forum and Construction Industry Culture Taskforce, to help ensure consistency and sharing of best practice.

The Infrastructure Australia Priority List includes projects such as the modernisation of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, the M12 motorway in Sydney, and the Ellenbrook train line in Perth, which has seen significant delays.

Infrastructure Australia CEO Romilly Madew said it was the first time the Priority List had been released mid-year.

“By doing so, we want to highlight the most recent priority proposals at a time when our infrastructure investment needs to progress quickly. Australia is planning its recovery from a rolling series of crises: drought, flood, the bush fires and now Covid-19,” she said.

“As we look forward, the focus is on delivery and as the nation’s infrastructure advisory body, we are continuing to improve our ability to move quickly to identify investments that will improve productivity – this is about expanding the pipeline, keeping the economy growing, helping to create jobs and attract investment.”

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