From the CEO’s Desk

The Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) – the national council of transport, infrastructure and planning ministers – met on 5 June to progress a number of important policy issues. Roads Australia’s submission was mentioned in the Communique, as was a road safety submission signed by 13 organisations (including RA) led by the Australian Automobile Association.

The issues discussed at the TIC meeting are mirrored in our own policy agenda and Strategic Plan, including the importance of an infrastructure-led recovery from COVID-19; reducing waste and increasing the use of recycled materials in construction; increasing patronage on public transport, keeping freight moving, improving road safety and paving the way for connected and automated vehicles.

On 29 May, the Prime Minister announced the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) would cease and a new National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) be established in its place, with the National Cabinet at its centre. The future role of the Transport and Infrastructure Council is unclear at this stage, however RA will continue to play a policy leadership role by advising the NFRC and National Cabinet on the range of important policy issues in this sector.

Our policy and stakeholder engagement continues to roll out despite the COVID-19 disruption. Over the past two weeks we have hosted webinars with:
Louise McCormick, GM of Transport and Civil Services in the NT Department of Infrastructure Planning and Logistics,
Tim Pallas, Treasurer of Victoria,
Tony Braxton-Smith, CEO of the SA Dept of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure,
Dennis Walsh, Chief Engineer, QLD Dept of Transport and Main Roads, and
Peter Regan, Deputy Secretary, Infrastructure and Place, Transport for NSW.
The calendar of RA events remains full for the remainder of June, with upcoming webinars featuring:
Mark Bailey, Qld Minister for Transport and Main Roads on 23 June,
Michael McCormack, Deputy PM and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development on 24 June,
a joint RA/ISCA webinar on how to plan, build and design for extreme events on 26 June, and
Graeme Newton, Chief Executive Officer at Cross River Rail Delivery Authority on 26 June.
The RA Diversity and Inclusion Committee meets on 23 June, and the full Board on 24 June.

At its last meeting the RA Board confirmed the appointment of MinterEllison Consulting Partner Kay Salvair-Smith as the new Deputy Chair of our Capacity Policy Stream. Kay bring more than 20 years of infrastructure market experience to the role and will be working closely with our Chair Scott Olsen to deliver the Stream’s policy agenda.

Finally, we have just published another new podcast – this time focussed on Mobility as a Service and how the experience of the past few months might shape any future MaaS model in Australia. Hope you enjoy it and the other recent episodes in our Road Work series.

Stay safe and well.

Michael Kilgariff

Brisbane Metro a step closer as preferred delivery partner announced

Brisbane Move, a consortium of Acciona and Arup, has been chosen as the preferred tenderer to design and deliver the $944 million Brisbane Metro project, with construction expected to get underway next year.

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New agreement keeps Sydney Metro (Western Sydney Airport) on track

The Federal and NSW governments have reached an agreement this month that unlocks a further $3.5 billion for the $11 billion Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport rail link, paving the way for construction to commence this year.

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Governments seeking feedback on heavy vehicle charging – and how it’s spent

The Heavy Vehicle Road Reform (HVRR) team is seeking public feedback on proposed changes to the setting and investing of heavy vehicle charges. Consultation will focus on four proposed changes to the way in which road services are provided by governments.

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Austroads has confirmed the appointment of Dr Geoff Allan as its news Chief Executive. Geoff has been acting in the position since the retirement of Nick Koukoulas in April. He joined Austroads last October following six years as Chief Operating Officer of the National Transport Commission, during which time he is credited with helping build the skills and confidence of staff to deliver complex reforms in a challenging multi-jurisdictional environment.

The WA Government has appointed respected public sector leader Philip Helberg as Chief Executive Officer of Infrastructure WA. As a former Deputy Director General of the Department of Finance, Philip led the Building Management and Works and the Strategic Projects arms of the agency, driving significant sector-wide reforms in infrastructure planning and development. His five-year term at the helm of Infrastructure WA will commence on 1 August.

The Australian Constructors Association has announced the appointment of Queensland Major Contractors Association CEO Jon Davies as its first Chief Executive Officer. ACA Executive Chairman Craig Laslett says the expanded focus of the ACA and the appointment of Jon will provide the opportunity to establish greater collaboration between industry, clients, the supply chain and the community. Jon takes up his position with the ACA on 1 July.


Roads Australia’s on-line workshop on mobility priorities for our bus network has been moved back to 2 July. The workshop will consider principles and priorities for a future transport and mobility environment, with a specific focus on bus infrastructure and modal integration of bus services. This is a ‘by invitation’ webinar – invites to be circulated shortly.


Construction will begin in August on the Stephenson Avenue Extension following this week’s announcement of Densford Civil as the preferred tenderer for phase one of the City of Stirling project. This first phase will see Stephenson Avenue extended from Scarborough Beach Road to Sarich Court, including new connections to Ellen Stirling Boulevard at Howe and Oswald streets. WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti says she anticipates expressions of interest will be sought from industry in July to build phase two, with construction scheduled to begin early in 2021.

The biggest level crossing removal blitz in Victoria’s history is in full swing on the Frankston Line as work continues to remove three dangerous and congested level crossings and build two new train stations. In Cheltenham, a major milestone was reached this week with the openings of Park and Charman roads. The current works at Cheltenham and Mentone are part of a $3 billion investment on the Frankston line to remove 18 level crossings – with eight already gone – and build 12 new stations.

As part of its Infrastructure Investment Package, the Federal Government has unlocked $50 million for safety improvements along Appin Road, in western Sydney. The works will include widening travel lanes in each direction, installing a safety barrier and installing fauna fencing along parts of the road to save koalas. The Appin Road project is expected to be completed by mid-2022.

The NT Government has released $100,000 in funding to create localised road safety campaigns or initiatives as part of the Towards Zero Road Safety Grants program 2020. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to NT-based not-for-profit organisations, local governments, schools, sporting or community groups to develop and implement road safety initiatives addressing local road safety concerns and increasing road safety awareness.

The Tasmanian Government will allocate $40 million for road safety upgrades in 2020-21 and 2021-22 and bring forward $40 million through an accelerated procurement tender process as part of a package aimed at bolstering the State’s economy and creating around 15,000 jobs.The package will build on the Government’s current infrastructure package of $1.8 billion over the next two years, and in total will support an estimated construction value of $3.1 billion across the next two years.

Austroads has published an issues paper that analyses the contribution of the road transport sector to greenhouse gas emissions in Australia and New Zealand, highlighting the role network operations need to play in supporting state and national emission reduction goals. The paper finds that, left unabated, the transportation sector will continue to drive emissions growth in Australia and New Zealand, and that business as usual is inconsistent with the ambition for net zero emissions by 2050.

In an Australian first, John Holland has used plastic waste products collected during the construction of the NSW Government’s New Intercity Fleet Maintenance Facility project in an environmentally sustainable asphalt for a local road on the NSW Central Coast. More than 226 kilograms of soft plastic – equivalent to nearly 57,000 single-use bags – was collected for processing. Working with Downer, the captured soft plastics were processed with other recyclable waste, including used toner cartridges. John Holland partnered with community engagement group Plastic Police on the initiative.

The Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies is conducting a webinar next Wednesday 17 June at 2pm on the future of global freight logistics management post-COVID-19. The discussion will focus on short and long-term impacts and the innovations that will help make supply chains not only more transparent and cost effective, but also safer and more valuable for all the links in those chains.

Meantime, A Human Agency! is hosting a webinar on 23 June at 10.30am that will speak to the capabilities our leaders must have as we plan a return to work, ensuring our workplaces and people are safe.

Transport innovation

A new study from the United States claims autonomous vehicles might prevent only around a third of all crashes if their automated systems drive too much like people. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety bases its claim on analysis of national crash statistics showing driver error as the final failure in the chain of events leading to more than nine out of 10 crashes. The Institute says only about a third of those crashes are the result of mistakes that automated vehicles would be expected to avoid, simply because they have more accurate perception than human drivers and aren’t vulnerable to incapacitation. To avoid the other two-thirds, they would need to be specifically programmed to prioritise safety over speed and convenience.

In SA, three new smartphone apps have been launched to provide public transport customers with better, faster and more accurate information. Moovit combines real-time data to give commuters the fastest route with stop announcements along the way, an audio alert when their stop is approaching and a countdown display of stops along their route; NextThere displays departure information and shows where a user and their next service are; and Transit shows real-time arrivals, step-by-step directions, and helps find new routes using buses, trains, and trams.

Diversity and social responsibility

Next week is Refugee Week and RA members are encouraged to raise awareness across their organisations and perhaps run their own activities.The infrastructure and transport sector has been a great supporter of the CareerSeekers refugee internship program for a number of years, and Refugee Week is an opportunity to share our success stories.

Upcoming RA events

June 23 – Webinar with Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey. Proudly sponsored by Transurban.
June 24 – Webinar with Deputy PM Michael McCormack. Proudly sponsored by the Australasian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels (ACRS).
June 26 – By-invitation webinar with Brisbane Cross River Rail CEO Graeme Newton. Proudly sponsored by Jacobs.
October 28 & 29 – RA Transport Summit, Sydney. Bookings now open.
October 28 – John Shaw Dinner, Sydney. Bookings now open.