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NSW budget boosts jobs and investment in construction industry: ACA

23 June, 2016

The Australian Constructors Association (ACA) has welcomed the NSW Budget as providing a major job and investment boost for the construction industry in the state.

Commenting on the $73.3b NSW Infrastructure Program to be delivered for critical infrastructure in key service delivery areas over the forward estimates, ACA Executive Director, Lindsay Le Compte, said that the government had identified the right mix of investment in portfolio expenditure by targeting key areas for growth and support.

"In this budget the government has maintained its commitment to the development of an essential transport system in metropolitan as well as regional areas with $41.5b being earmarked for expenditure over the next four years", Le Compte said.

"The government has also recognised the need to link transport with other key services by allocating a substantial amount over the next four years for health infrastructure, education and training projects and water, wastewater and energy projects.

"A good example of the integrated approach to the delivery of essential community facilities is the proposal to incorporate light rail into the development of the Westmead Hospital precinct so that the community will be able to gain direct access to enhanced medical and related services."

Le Compte also said that an important commitment contained in the budget related to boosting jobs, in particular investments in vocational education, with an amount of $100m over two years for the Smart, Skilled and Hired Program, and $97m in 2016-17 for new and improved TAFE facilities.

"The rate of change in construction processes and the impact of technology and innovation on the industry require a fundamental re-think of training and the apprenticeship system if the construction industry is to provide the work opportunities that young people require and remain sustainable in years to come", Le Compte said.

Le Compte went on to say that one of the primary reasons for the state's infrastructure program being so successful in attracting jobs and investment is the fact that it is underpinned by a reliable 20 year State Infrastructure Strategy supported by a State Infrastructure Plan and Regional Plans developed through the work of Infrastructure NSW (INSW).

"Through the work of INSW the government is delivering on the expectations of industry and the investment community in terms of project identification and a reliable pipeline of work. Budget Paper No.2 identifies a number of strategies that have been developed that go a significant way towards a better approach to infrastructure projects. However, the government could now take additional action to maximise the use of available funding and financing of large infrastructure projects", Le Compte said.

Le Compte said that late last year the ACA released a research report (Mega-Projects: Changing the Game) that identifies the possibility for savings of as much as thirty percent on mega projects delivered by the public and private sectors.

"The Mega-Projects report identifies the opportunity for governments to save billions of dollars just through adopting with industry and its supply chain a more coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to mega projects", Le Compte said.

"The evidence of cost savings and the more efficient use of public resources through streamlining bid processes, facilitating innovation and more efficient management of commercial risks has already been realised in the United Kingdom as identified in Infrastructure UK's Infrastructure Cost Review, and there is no reason why Australian governments could not also achieve these results", Le Compte said.

Le Compte concluded by saying that Australia's major constructors and the industry's supply chain are ready and able to work with governments to enable them to release more funds for community infrastructure and services through a new approach to projects.

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