The construction industry will continue to take a leading role in rebuilding Australia’s economy with a further $17.9 billion in infrastructure funding announced in 2022-23’s Federal Budget.
With a record $120 billion investment in infrastructure, it is incumbent on government and industry to ensure taxpayer money is well spent and this means hitting the accelerator on industry reform, said Australian Constructors Association CEO Jon Davies.
“The construction industry has barely changed in 30 years and reforms aimed at improving productivity and innovation could slash billions off the cost of constructing the planned infrastructure pipeline and in the process help repair the budget bottom line,” said Mr Davies.
According to analysis undertaken by BIS Oxford Economic for the Australian Constructors Association, just halving the productivity gap between construction and other major industries would unlock $15 billion in savings annually.
The Australian Constructors Association is calling on the Federal Government to coordinate and incentivise reforms to state procurement and delivery processes in order to realise this opportunity.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to require all Commonwealth funded projects to be rated on completion on key reform metrics to drive improved outcomes and share lessons learned,” said Mr Davies.
“The proposed Future Australian Infrastructure Rating (FAIR) would see project ratings published, driving productivity and innovation across the states and territories.”
With a predicted 105,000-construction worker shortfall in less than 18 months, measures in the Budget to improve skills and increase participation, particularly from women, are welcomed.
“Whilst the Budget acknowledges women’s workforce participation has reached the highest on record at 62.4 per cent, women account for just 12 per cent of the construction workforce so, essentially, the construction industry is missing out on employing half the working population,” said Mr Davies.
“The proposed FAIR ratings initiative extends beyond a focus on productivity—it would drive increased participation of women, improved worker health and wellbeing, increased sovereign capability, skills development, emissions reductions and more.
“Investment in infrastructure is necessary to improve the efficiency of the economy but little thought is given to the efficiency of the industry called upon to construct it.
“The proposed FAIR initiative will go a long way towards addressing this and in the process reducing public spending over the long term.”
The Australian Constructors Association is calling on the Federal Government to stop the waste and to sponsor reform by implementing FAIR without delay.