Inspire : Inspire Winter 2016
40 AUSTRALIAN INFRASTRUCTURE ROUND TABLE to have better operating pieces of infrastructure, lower cost, lower impact to the community and the environment and still be picked for cheapest cost construction, highest cost operation. RECOMMENDATION: LIMIT THE IMPACT OF WORKFORCE SHORTAGES Cartledge: We always see skill shor tages of some type across the sector and it var ies depending on the pipeline of projects. It might be tunnelling engineer s or rail engineers one year and then it will shift to project or engineer ing management . You need both the domestic supply of labour that can fill those gaps, and a nimble, skilled migration system to fill gaps in the shor t-term. In those states that are transitioning as resources projects become oper ational, with no substantial civil infrastructure program to fill that gap, our industry has lost literally thousands of staff. When future governments want to ramp up their infrastructure delivery, costs will increase because firms need to employ staff at higher costs. Ultimately it is the taxpayer that loses out. If you had longer-term planning, with a sustained pipeline of wor k to manage the productivity of the sector, you would get much better value for money. Sprigg: The skill shor tage manifested during the mining construction boom. It creates all sor ts of other inflationar y, deflationar y issues for managing your workforce. We’re also seeing ageing workforces . Way: There’s a lot of concern within organisations like Engineer s Austr alia about the skills shor tage in engineering for infrastructure, with issues like baby boomer s r eaching retirement and the pool of available professional engineers dropping considerably Ryan: I think we need proper wor kforce planning. You can’t turn out an engineer in five years even if you decided you needed to increase the number s tomor row. It’s also plumber s and all those other folks as well. The entire technical education sector is being downgraded, which I think is ex tremely unhelpful in this contex t as well. It gets incredibly expensive if we haven’t planned for it. There are cases around the countr y where engineer s are paid more than gener al manager s because engineers are harder to get than Local Government general managers. Sprigg: We really do need to give people some cer tainty about the choices they are making in terms of their educational training. Miller: That’s par t of that boom problem too. The mining sector is booming so kids leave high school and go and do mining engineering – by the time they get through the course, the mining industr y cycle has dr amatically changed things and they can’t get a job, cer tainly not in the way the students had envisioned things post-gr aduation. How fr ustr ating is that? It’s crazy, but also a reality in how we make our educational choices. RECOMMENDATION: INVESTIGATE ROAD USER CHARGING Ryan: One of the things we have to think carefully about is the inequality in cities. In large cities, the more you introduce road charging, the greater the potential for inequality you create. Australia has some of the highest travel to work times in the world and we have some of the wor st spatial inequality in the wor ld. Inequality in Aus tr alia is strongly spatially based. The issue with road user charging is it potentially exacerbates that inequality. Cartledge: In some ways, this recommendation is ac tually really uncontrover sial – it reflec ts recommendations from the Henry Review and Produc tivity Commission in recent years. From a policy perspective, I think ever ybody is in agreement that this is actually a ver y good policy solution and that in many ways it may result in a more equitable system for a number of the people who use the road network. The cur rent system is highly inequitable in terms of the use of tolls, the reliance on fuel, and on vehicle registration. If any thing I think the move to road user charging could find us with a far fairer system for the majority of road user s Miller: We hear different things at different levels of government in terms of the level of suppor t, and there’s definitely a move to the heav y vehicle side Without action, the cost of congestion across our biggest cities is projected to increase from $13.7 BILLION IN 2011 TO $53.3 BILLION IN 2031. THE NATIONAL LAND FREIGHT TASK IS EXPECTED TO GROW BY 86% between 2011 and 2031, with much of that expected to be handled by road freight. THERE ARE MANY OPPORTUNITIES WHERE VALUABLE DATA ON INFRASTRUCTURE IS NOT COLLECTED OR ANALYSED. Where it is, there are often issues of consistency and comparability between jurisdictions. 200,000 PEOPLE EMPLOYED in Australian local governments.
Inspire Summer 15-16