Queensland’s peak contracting body has today repeated its plea for all levels of government to take the politics out of infrastructure delivery as we head into a year of local and state government elections.
Queensland Major Contractors Association (QMCA) CEO, Jon Davies, called for infrastructure to be prioritised to meet the needs of citizens and business rather than politicians. “It has been particularly challenging time for contractors in Queensland as in the last 12-month period only two new major road projects (>$50M) came to market. Now, to meet the needs of the election cycle, rather than the needs of the economy or commuters, tenders for ten major projects are due for release in the next 12 weeks.”
“Of course, QMCA and our members welcome the release of major road projects, but the timing of the project releases and tender workload doesn’t help anyone. We have gone from famine to feast, and that poses challenges for contractors wishing to tender for work and the Department of Transport and Main Roads that has to manage the procurement processes.”
This boom and bust cycle helps nobody “QMCA has been warning government for almost two years that, without action, the civil infrastructure industry would face a deep recession with our Major Pipeline Project Report, released at the start of the year, forecasting a 24% decline in work for FY19/20. This has come to pass with the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing an 18% reduction in output year on year up to June 2019 and the situation will only get worse with ongoing delays to Inland Rail, Brisbane Metro and Gold Coast Light Rail.”
“We are in a recession we didn’t need to have.”
“In the last year, contractors have had to lay people off or transfer them to projects in the Southern States with no guarantee that they will be able to get them back. Now we have an avalanche of major transport projects coming to market that require significant resource and effort to bid.”
“Many staff will be required to work long hours, weekends and potentially the Christmas break to meet submission deadlines which is not good for their physical health, their mental health or for their families.”
“It can be no coincidence that these projects have been timed to be awarded during next year’s State election campaign.”
Roads are not the only infrastructure projects to be delayed by politics. Procurement for the Queensland sections of the Inland Rail Project was due to have commenced in September 2019 but is delayed waiting for the Queensland Government to sign off on the Intergovernmental Agreement for the project. Procurement of Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3 has been placed in limbo due to a failure of all three levels of government to agree on funding for the project as has the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail upgrade.
“Political interference across the board is preventing the proper planning and delivery of infrastructure projects in Queensland,” said Mr Davies. “Without a sustainable pipeline of work in Queensland, companies are unable to invest in the future skills and equipment required to grow our economy and remain competitive. Their current focus is purely on staying in business.”
QMCA also calls on all levels of government to finalise a City Deal for South East Queensland. “City Deals align all levels of government on infrastructure priorities and a long term pipeline of work. This is desperately needed in Queensland to provide the certainty for business to plan and invest in the future,” said Mr Davies.