A civil contractors group in Cairns has its sights set on improving the timing of government tenders to help side-step the perils of the northern wet season.
The mid-year timing of the State Budget meant many tenders were released and awarded in the third quarter of the calendar year, Eco Civil Group senior managing director Phil Cassell said.
This meant firms weren’t ‘breaking ground’ on road works and other infrastructure projects until as late as September, he said.
“The issue with that, of course, is come December we get hit with the wet season with the job half finished,” Mr Cassell said.
“Then we have to either hope we can manage it through the wet season at high risk and with repetitive work, or you shut the job down and wait until the dry season after Easter and try and pick it up and have it finished by the 30th of June.
“What we would like to see is the government align the tenders more with the calendar year rather than the financial year.
“We understand that may be difficult, but I think given the environmental conditions that we work under it would be in the best interest of everyone.”
Mr Cassell said the timing of tenders was an issue the Cairns Chamber of Commerce’s Civil Construction Taskforce would throw into the spotlight in 2018.
Having the bulk of the work coming on in the dry season would lower the risk of erosion and run-off, he said.
“It would be advantageous for delivery of the projects as well as the economics,” he said.
Operating through the wet season meant contractors frequently had to redo project work in areas that had suffered damage.
It also required a greater outlay on critical erosion and sediment control measures, he said.
“I’ve seen a metre of rain in 40 hours up in Cairns – how do you contain that? We suffer environmental harm and we suffer productivity harm on the job site,” he said.
“Someone has to pay for that and typically it’s the contractors.”