From the CEO’s Desk

As COVID continues to bite, we’ve had to make some hard decisions around our event planning for the remainder of the calendar year.

The most significant decision is to carry-over the annual Summit and John Shaw Dinner in Sydney to 2021. We’ve been holding onto our proposed dates at the end of October for as long as possible, but it’s now very clear that it will be impossible to deliver these key events at anywhere near the level our members expect.

The new dates are 17-18 June, with the John Shaw on the evening of 17 June. The RA team is working hard to transfer all pre-payments for sponsorship and tickets to 2021. (If you’ve already booked, expect to hear from us shortly.)

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Procurement reform remains one of the most important issues on both industry and government infrastructure agendas across Australia, and yesterday we had an opportunity to look at if from two different angles.

In the morning we hosted an online industry briefing on the progress of the NSW Government’s 10-Point Commitment to the construction sector. We were fortunate to be joined by three agency procurement leaders – Camilla Drover from Transport for NSW; Jackie Aggett from Sydney Metro; and Sonya Campbell from NSW Treasury.

The overarching message was that NSW Government agencies now see the 10-Point Commitment as ‘business as usual’, and although still a work in progress the reform charter is driving improvements in areas like early engagement and collaboration, and greater standardisation of procurement and contract docs.

There was a lot of interest from our participants in what’s being done to develop contractor performance reporting, and – from an industry perspective – the importance of good performance being recognised in future procurements. We also heard about a more collaborative market sounding approach that will be trialled on the Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport project, aimed at drawing out honest, transparent industry feedback (particularly in areas like risk allocation).

Our second webinar yesterday was focussed on inclusive procurement.

The diversity debate extends far beyond the challenge of increasing female participation, and in this webinar we heard from two incredibly passionate employee advocates – Penny Graham, Chair of CareerSeekers New Australian Internship Program, and Roy Ah-See, Co-chair of the PM’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

In the four years since it commenced, CareerSeekers has built partnerships with 64 Australian businesses and successfully delivered 684 professional employment outcomes for refugees and asylum seekers. Penny’s message – don’t see program participants as charity cases or a social obligation, but as highly skilled and valued business assets who can help bridge the capacity/skills gap.

Roy had a similar message. Creating opportunities for indigenous Australians doesn’t just tap into a new pool of skills. It connects a business or project to the land on which it stands, and to the 60,000 year-old ‘back-story’ of its people. Over time, these deeper connections will start to resonate outwards, creating more opportunities to break the nexus with welfare that exists inside many indigenous communities.

If you were lucky enough to sit in on this webinar, you will have come away inspired and hopeful that, as an industry, we can make a real difference – not just to marginalised individuals and communities, but in terms of meeting Australia’s long-term skill needs.

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Our latest podcast is now available, covering a subject that will resonate with our Future Leaders in particular. In it we asked two senior industry figures about the decision-making processes they went through when facing the inevitable question: when is a career move the right move?

It’s a great discussion with some fantastic insights. Enjoy.

Stay safe and well.

Michael Kilgariff

Westport recommendations get WA Government’s green light

The WA Government has endorsed the independent Westport Taskforce’s recommended location and design for a future container port at Kwinana.

The final report has recommended a land-backed port be built within the Kwinana Industrial Area, connected by an uninterrupted freight corridor via Anketell Road and Tonkin Highway.

Read more

Refreshed national infrastructure pipeline worth more than $64b

Five new road and rail projects have been added to the latest update of the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List from Infrastructure Australia.

Read more

Australians were starting to get out and about – and then restrictions tightened

National research conducted before Victoria and other states reimposed tighter COVID restrictions found a rising number of Australians were feeling confident enough to start travelling for social and recreational reasons.

Read more


The Interim Board of the SmartCrete CRC has announced the appointment of Warren South as its CEO. Warren joins SmartCrete following nine years as Director – Research and Technical Services with RA member Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia (CCAA). SmartCrete CRC has the objective of step-changing the concrete ecosystem through improvements in cost, productivity and sustainability.

RA Fellows Council Chair Ross Campbell has recently joined MinterEllison as an Executive Director. Previously at Arup, Ross has advised on the successful delivery of some of Australia’s largest rail and road infrastructure projects, including Regional Rail Link Package C, the M80 Upgrade Program, The Northern Road 3 and Deer Park Bypass. He also created the strategy, led the successful tender and negotiated with the Victorian Government on the 3-5 year, $250 million+ contract for the Major Road Projects Victoria Advisor Project.

We farewell two industry stalwarts and great friends of RA who have retired in recent weeks. GHD Senior Technical Director – Transport Ian Dawson is putting his feet up after 35 years with the company, while Dougall Broadfoot is also hanging up his bitumen-covered boots as Executive Officer NSW/ACT with the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA). Dougall is a Life Member, former Director and Chair of APPA, as well as a former Vice President of RA (in its former guise as the Australian Road Federation). We wish both gentlemen happy and fulfilling retirements.


Next Wednesday RA hosts its second regional roads webinar, continuing the discussion we started last month on low-cost, high-gain infrastructure treatments to improve road safety. This event also marks our support for Rural Road Safety Month. We’ll be joined by Russell White, CEO of the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF); Rob McInerney, CEO of the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP); and Catherine Vick, Team Leader Highways and Principal Transport Engineer with AECOM. The session will be moderated by Tara McCarthy, RA’s Safety Policy Stream Chair and Deputy Secretary, Safety, Environment and Regulation with Transport for NSW.


The Southwest Connex consortium, comprising Acciona, local WA company NRW Contracting, MACA Civil, AECOM and Aurecon, has been named the preferred proponent to design and construct the $852 million Bunbury Outer Ring Road, the biggest regional infrastructure project ever undertaken in WA. The contract is expected to be finalised next month.

A joint venture between BMD Constructions and Bielby Holdings has this month been awarded the first of two major construction contracts to deliver the $1 billion Section D: Woondum to Curra (C2CD) project. C2CD is the fourth and final section of the 62-kilometre upgrade of the Bruce Highway between Cooroy and Curra, and includes a bypass of Gympie. Contract 1 awarded to BMD/Bielby is for the Woondum interchange to Sandy Creek Road. The Department of Transport and Main Roads says it hopes to secure a contractor for the second major construction contract – Sandy Creek Road to Curra – by early 2021.

A reminder that we are now accepting applications for the 2021 intake into our industry-leading Fellowship Program – an exclusive, national mentoring initiative that pairs industry leaders (mentors) with emerging leaders of 10 to 15 years’ experience (Fellows). Nominations are due by COB Friday 28 August. For more information, contact Marlie Curtis.

New detailed plans for two freight rail projects, aimed at easing traffic congestion on some of Sydney’s busiest roads, have been approved by the NSW Government. The current single freight rail track between Mascot and Botany will be duplicated and a new passing loop will be added to the freight line between Cabramatta and Warwick Farm stations, allowing for freight trains up to 1,300 metres in length. Both projects are been delivered by the Australian Rail Track Corporation, with the Cabramatta Loop Project expected to be completed by mid-2023 and the Botany Rail Duplication by late-2024.

The Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast have committed to a jointly funded business case for light rail to the Gold Coast Airport. Future east-west bus and light rail connections will also be explored with a study to prioritise rapid transit options on the Broadbeach – Robina and Broadbeach – Nerang corridors. City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate says the southern light rail link is of strategic importance to the Gold Coast, Queensland and NSW, and will result in a 40km public transport spine linking key employment, transport, health and education nodes.

National Cabinet last week took further action to keep Australian freight moving safely by formalising a Freight Movement Code. The Code, endorsed by state, territory and Commonwealth infrastructure and transport ministers, ensures a consistent set of health measures apply across borders for freight operators. The enforceable measures have been specified to deliver greater consistency between states and territories in their implementation of border controls, especially for routine COVID-19 testing, self-isolation requirements while working and reporting requirements to facilitate contact tracing.

Funding under the Australian Government’s Black Spot Program will substantially improve 92 dangerous crash sites on Victorian roads over the next two years. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack announced last week the State would receive $38.7 million under the program’s 2020-21 funding round. The high-priority locations being funding have seen a total of nine fatal and 521 injury crashes over the past five years.

Adelaide motorists are at last driving on the finished Darlington Upgrade Project after final construction elements were completed earlier this month. The morning commute has now been slashed for thousands of motorists, with all new lanes in the lowered motorway open and the speed limit lifted to 80km/h. The $754.5 million project was delivered by Gateway South, a joint venture between Laing O’Rourke and Fulton Hogan.

COVID continues to play havoc with industry events. ARRB is the latest victim, making the decision to postpone its 2020 Gala Dinner planned for Melbourne in November. The good news, however, is that the 2020 National Transport Research Awards – usually held in conjunction with the Gala Dinner – will go ahead via a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday, 19 November. Nominations for the Awards are now open.

Transport innovation

Standards Australia has released a Smart Cities Standards Roadmap to help with smart city roll-out across the country. Through 11 recommendations, the Roadmap aims to identify technical issues, prioritise the order of standards development and consider systems for adopting international standards. Underlining the need for the roadmap, it’s estimated that 21 percent of local Australian governments are piloting Smart City projects of some kind.

We might be waiting a little longer than at first thought to hop into a fully automated vehicle. The American Automobile Association has recently released research that finds over the course of 6,400 kilometres of real-world driving, vehicles equipped with active driving assistance systems experience some type of issue every 13 kilometres, on average. Active driving assistance, classified as Level 2 driving automation on SAE International’s 0-5 scale, refers to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that provide the highest level of automated vehicle technology available to the public today.

Upcoming RA events

Aug 18 – Fellows webinar with Angus Mitchell, GM – Maritime Safety Queensland, DTMR . Proudly sponsored by John Holland.

Aug 19 – Policy webinar – Regional and rural road safety.

June 16-18 2021 – RA Transport Summit, Sydney. Bookings now open.

June 17 2021 – John Shaw Dinner, Sydney. Bookings now open.

Upcoming industry events

Aug 25 & 27 – CPEE short course: Haul Road Design (including optional workshop).

Sept 1 & 3 – CPEE short course: Flexible Pavement Design – UNBOUND (including optional workshop).

Oct 13 & 15 – CPEE short course: Flexible Pavement Design – BOUND (including optional workshop).

Oct 20 & 22 – CPEE short course: Mechanistic Pavement Design – CIRCLY (including workshop).