Infrastructure investment confidence high,
but challenges looming over the horizon
A critical shortage of skills remains the number one concern of construction industry leaders charged with delivering Australia’s record transport infrastructure spend over the next decade, according to a new survey by Roads Australia.
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Victorian Budget good news for road and rail users
Last week’s Victorian Budget continues the Government’s strong commitment to transport infrastructure planning and delivery, with the centrepiece being a $27.4 billion Suburban Transport Blitz package that includes $15.8 billion to fully fund and build North East Link, $6.6 billion to remove another 25 level crossings, and $608 million to upgrade local roads.
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Roma Street busway interchange to go underground
Brisbane’s Roma Street Station busway interchange will undergo a $250 million underground transformation to create a seamless connection to the new Cross River Rail Project. Announced last week, the project will be delivered by the Cross River Rail team as an additional public transport infrastructure project.
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National transport regulatory reform subject of new review
The Productivity Commission has released an issues paper and is seeking feedback for an inquiry into national transport regulatory reform. Initial submissions are due by June 28.
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Industry appointments
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will continue to champion infrastructure, transport and regional development in the new Morrison Ministry, unveiled last week. Alan Tudge also continues with his portfolio responsibilities of population, cities and urban infrastructure. Queensland MP, Scott Buchholz, has been handed assistant ministerial responsibilities for road safety and freight.

Meantime, Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has awarded shadow ministerial responsibility for infrastructure, transport and regional development to Victorian MP, Catherine King. Mr Albanese has held the prized portfolio, both in Government and Opposition, for the past 12 years. Ms King was Minister for Regional Services, Local Communities and Territories and Minister for Road Safety in the Gillard Government, and Shadow Minister for Health in Bill Shorten’s shadow cabinet.

DCWC Infrastructure has recently welcomed Andrew Loh to the team as an Associate Director. Andrew brings a wealth of experience and skills in the fields of project and cost management, having worked on major infrastructure projects in both Singapore and Australia. He has experience using the EPCM, Alliance and Program Alliance models for both private and public sector clients, and at DCWC will provide cost estimating, independent estimator reviews and risk management services in the key infrastructure sectors of water utilities, port/wharves, rail/light rail and roads.

Hydrogen Mobility Australia has appointed Dr Fiona Simon as its new CEO. Recently a Principal Consultant with ACIL Allen Consulting, Dr Simon has worked with energy regulators and businesses, including leading the ERM Power regulatory affairs function. Hydrogen Mobility Australia is a stakeholder group formed to accelerate the commercialisation of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across the entire hydrogen value chain.

Policy news
Last year the Australian Government did away with the 457 visa, replacing it with the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa. Whilst the Government’s intentions were good, a lack of industry knowledge about the change – coupled with the ineligibility of a number of industry-critical skills sets – has resulted in fewer applications and/or delays across the transport and infrastructure sectors. Over the coming months, we’ll be running workshops with PwC around the country to show RA members how they can make the most of the TSS visa system, and to look at what we can do collectively to ensure the skills our industry needs are included on the skilled occupations list. The first of these workshops will take place in Adelaide on July 9. Watch this space for details of other upcoming workshops.

With safety firmly entrenched as our number one policy priority, our new Safety Policy Stream is conducting a workshop in Sydney on July 17 to continue the important industry discussion on roadworker safety. The workshop is being hosted by 3M with the support of Altus Traffic.

We still have a few places left on our Future Transport: Smart Cities Study Visit to the USA and Canada, from July 22 to August 2. Anyone who has participated in our past two study tours will know these visits provide unprecedented access to senior policy makers and industry leaders who are leading the charge towards new mobility solutions and technologies. If you’re interested, you can find out more on our website or talk to Marlie Curtis, ph. (03) 9821 5255.

Industry news in brief
Congratulations to Professor David Hensher, who was last week awarded the 2019 John Shaw Medal at a glittering dinner attended by over 700 industry leaders at the Sydney Town Hall. Professor Hensher, who is the Founding Director of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney, is regarded as Australia’s most eminent expert on travel demand and valuation and transport reform, and has advised government and private sector organisations around the world on transport economics, demand forecasting, economic evaluation, policy and planning.

The ACT Government handed down its 2019-20 Budget this week, committing to 84 new buses, progressing the detailed design, planning and enabling works for stage two of light rail from the City to Woden, building better roads (including the full duplication of Athllon Drive, William Hovell Drive and the major arterial road between Belconnen and Gungahlin) and upgrading key intersections. A detailed breakdown of the Budget’s transport initiatives is available here.

SA Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Minister, Stephan Knoll, has flagged a $51 million investment in three intersection upgrades in the 2019-20 State Budget, to be handed down later this month. Mr Knoll says the Budget will include $19 million to upgrade the intersection of Main North Road and Nottage Terrace; $13 million to upgrade the intersection of Main North, Kings and McIntyre Roads; and $19 million to upgrade the intersection of Grand Junction, Hampstead and Briens Roads.

A reminder that submissions for the 3M – ACRS Diamond Road Safety Award 2019 close on July 15. The Award recognises a road safety practitioner – whether an individual, partnership, community group or local or state government agency – who has developed a road safety treatment/initiative that stands out beyond traditional activities and delivers improved road safety.

The Victorian Government will hold eight road safety community roundtables across Victoria in the coming months to seek views on reducing the number of lives lost and serious injuries on regional roads. The planned community roundtables are a follow-up to last week’s Road Safety Summit at the State Library, where road safety experts and community leaders gathered to discuss what more could be done to address the horror start to the year on Victoria’s roads. The majority of this year’s increase in road deaths has happened on regional roads, with 86 killed compared to 47 at the same time last year.

This year marks an important anniversary for arguably Australia’s most significant infrastructure project, and the company that built it. Begun in 1949, Snowy Hydro is recognised as an engineering wonder of the world. But what many people don’t realise is that building it required the construction of 2,000km of roads and led to many Australian firsts, including the compulsory wearing of seatbelts – a full decade before the rest of Australia. Read more at the SMEC Australia 70th anniversary website.

The Tasmanian Government is implementing a comprehensive Traffic Incident Response strategy for Hobart as part of a $71.98 million Greater Hobart Traffic Solution policy commitment outlined in the 2019-20 Budget. Response Plans have been developed to deal with a range of scenarios that might occur across the transport network, based on block-by-block scenario mapping. Another initiative is a real-time traffic management system currently being trialled. Once fully implemented, it will provide incident detection and travel time information to road users via a smartphone app.

WA Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, says the State Government will proceed with planning the Bunbury Outer Ring Road’s southern alignment through the existing road reserve following extensive investigations and consultation. A number of changes to the preferred alignment have been made, including moving the Gelorup connection from Hasties Road to Centenary Road and the protection of a locally valued large tuart tree.

Still in WA, the Midland, Bayswater and Forrestfield station precincts will be brought into a redevelopment area known as the METRONET East Redevelopment Area to ensure vibrancy, housing and jobs are the focus of each revitalisation. Minister Saffioti says METRONET East will maximise development opportunities and provide market certainty to capitalise on the transport infrastructure delivered under METRONET. The Government has also just released the Environmental Review Document for the northern portion of the Yanchep Rail Extension, and is seeking feedback until July 8.

Victoria’s leading sustainability awards, the Premier’s Sustainability Awards, are open in 11 categories and close at 5pm next Thursday June 13. For more information and to start/lodge an entry, go to the Awards website.

Australia’s first interdisciplinary degree focusing on the engineering, urban planning and business management of transport is now being advertised and is open for enrolments for 2020. The Master of Transport degree is being offered through the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and will leverage the strengths of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies.

Work started last week on the $77.5 million upgrade of the last remaining section of high-speed single lane highway to Perth’s north-eastern suburbs. The four-kilometre dual-carriageway upgrade of Reid Highway between Altone Road and West Swan Road is being delivered by Decmil Southern. It’s the first project to be delivered under the WA Industry Participation Strategy, ensuring local work and job creation.

Sydney Airport released its Master Plan 2039 last month, setting out the strategic direction for the airport’s development over the next 20 years. The Master Plan includes details of proposed improvements to the airfield, aviation facilities, terminals and infrastructure, as well what’s being done to improve road network performance.

The NSW Government is seeking feedback by June 19 on its proposal for a new $280 million Engineering Innovation Hub, to be located in Parramatta. The proposed hub will include a 19-storey education building for engineering and architecture students from Western Sydney University and the University of NSW, as well as space for new shops, offices and public open space.

Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission launched a new campaign last week targetting distracted drivers. The campaign tells Victorians that ‘when you’re on your phone, you’re driving blind’ and highlights that just a two-second glance at a mobile phone means a driver is travelling blind.

Sydney topped the rankings for Australia, with Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth all falling middle of the road for the cost of construction in the latest International Construction Costs Report 2019 from Arcadis. New York was the world’s most expensive city, followed by San Francisco and Hong Kong. Sydney was the most expensive Australian city at 34, followed by Brisbane (56), Melbourne (61) and Perth (62). The report details the relative cost of construction in 100 of the world’s leading cities. Fifty cities were added to this year’s report, including Perth, making it the largest comparison of its kind.

Wood & Grieve Engineers (WGE), in collaboration with Engineers Australia, Consult Australia and Open Learning, has created an online training course to lift the understanding and importance of subsurface utility engineering (SUE) across the country. The course provides a solid overview of SUE and the newly upgraded AS5488, which now includes a new Part 2 focusing on the management of subsurface utilities. The course costs just $285 and takes only eight hours to complete.

The Centre for Pavement Engineering Education (CPEE) Annual Excellence in Teaching Award for 2018 has been jointly awarded to Prof Ron Ayers, University of Southern Queensland and Mr Bob Andrews, Principle of Inratehno, Sunshine Coast. The Award gives recognition to academic staff (Unit Chairs) teaching the CPEE post graduate Master of Pavement Technology course.

Meantime, enrolments are open until July 12 for Semester Two on-line courses available through CPEE. The courses cover roads, pavements and infrastructure asset management and provide a unique and convenient option to enhance practical knowledge and qualifications without the need to attend classrooms.

Transport innovation
The latest Global EV Outlook, released last week by the International Energy Agency, shows electric mobility is expanding at a rapid pace. In 2018, the global electric car fleet exceeded 5.1 million, up 2 million from the previous year and almost doubling the number of new electric car sales. The People’s Republic of China remains the world’s largest electric car market, followed by Europe and the United States. Norway is the global leader in terms of electric car market share. The report also finds technology advances are delivering substantial cost cuts, with key enablers being developments in battery chemistry and expansion of production capacity in manufacturing plants.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has reportedly driven down insurance costs, saved around $1 million a year and potentially prevented road deaths and injury through an innovative fleet management strategy, including the introduction of telematic vehicle monitoring. According to the report in Government News, the Department has also brought hybrid electric vehicles into its fleet and successfully piloted car share services in the central western city of Orange, where about 900 department staff are based.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says hydrogen has the potential to be Queensland’s next LNG, and a new source of highly-skilled jobs in regional Queensland. The State Government last week released a $19 million Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy 2019–2024 – $15 million of which will support an industry development fund. In March, Queensland celebrated its first-ever delivery of green hydrogen to Japan, exported by JXTG with hydrogen produced at QUT’s solar cell facility at the Queensland Government’s Redlands Research Facility.

Meantime, Jacobs has recently released its own White Paper to examine the opportunities and challenges for Australia to participate in the hydrogen supply chain. Australia’s pursuit of a large scale Hydrogen Economy argues that to be sustainable, the supply chain model requires readily available renewable energy generation and a consistent supply of drinking water – both requirements that could be an impediment to sustainable hydrogen production in Australia.

In the UK, Highways England plans to revolutionise construction and maintenance on its road network by introducing connected and autonomous plant (CAP). A research team led by TRL has been engaged to identify key technical and strategic milestones necessary to achieve Highways England’s Digital Roads agenda – to implement intelligent and automated practices by 2050. The project will explore worker safety and welfare benefits, as well as construction quality, productivity and costs that arise through automating activities that currently require human intervention. TRL will then lead a field demonstration of cutting edge CAP technology to test these benefits.

Diversity and social responsibility
ASPIRE is KBR’s global employee-driven group that is committed to the development of women and the promotion of gender diversity. In April, KBR’s ASPIRE Australia chapter launched its program for 2019, where staff continued the ‘Balance for Better’ conversation from International Women’s Day, sharing meaningful conversations about gender diversity. KBR’s 2019 program features a series of staff networking breakfasts and ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, focussed on themes such as career advancement, empowering change and celebrating success. The program will also see KBR staff collaborate with charities that support equal opportunity in our society and get involved in promoting STEM at schools.
Upcoming RA events
June 13 – By invitation. Single-table lunch with Minister Stephan Knoll, Adelaide. Proudly sponsored by Arup.
June 14 – By invitation. RMS Maintenance Contract Review with John Hardwick, Sydney.
June 18 – By invitation. Single table lunch with Infrastructure Victoria CEO, Michel Masson, Melbourne. Proudly sponsored by Cardno.
June 20 – By invitation. Comms team event, Melbourne. Proudly sponsored by Plenary Group.
June 21 – By invitation. Single table lunch with TMR Chief Engineer, Dennis Walsh. Proudly sponsored by Arup.
June 25 – Young Professionals Understanding the Client Workshop, Melbourne.
June 26 – Young Professionals group mentoring, Brisbane. Proudly sponsored by Arup.
June 28 – Industry lunch with Infrastructure SA CEO, Jeremy Conway, Adelaide. Proudly sponsored by McConnell Dowell.
Upcoming industry events

June 18 – CPEE Mechanistic Pavement Design – CIRCLY course, Melbourne.
June 19-20 – IPWEA Emerging Technologies in Public Infrastructure Conference, Sydney.
June 26-28 – Transport Australia conference, Sydney.
July 30-31 – CPEE Road & Public Space Lighting Workshop, Brisbane.