Oct 11, 2019

Anger over ‘election cycle’ infrastructure delays

Anger over ‘election cycle’  infrastructure delays

A peak industry body has slammed politically motivated delays to infrastructure roll-out, saying contractors are going from famine to feast when it comes to project releases in Queensland.

Queensland Major Contractors Association (QMCA) chief executive officer Jon Davies called for infrastructure to be prioritised to meet the needs of citizens and business rather than politicians.

“It has been a particularly challenging time for contractors in Queensland as in the last 12-month period only two new major road projects (valued at more than $50 million) came to market,” he said.

“Now, to meet the needs of the election cycle, rather than the needs of the economy or commuters, tenders for 10 major projects are due for release in the next 12 weeks.

QMCA chief executive officer Jon Davies.

“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.”

Mr Davies said the QMCA had been warning of a recession in the civil infrastructure industry.

Its Major Pipeline Project Report, released at the start of the year, forecast a 24 per cent decline in work for 2019/20.

“This has come to pass, with the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing an 18 per cent 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,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Davies said it was no coincidence that these projects had been timed to be awarded during next year’s State election campaign.

iQ has contacted Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey for comment.