Australia needs leadership on EV policy, says Senate Committee
The Australian Government should prioritise the development of a national EV strategy and an inter-governmental taskforce to lead its implementation – that’s the key finding of the report of the Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Electric Vehicles, released last week.

Infrastructure spending set to peak, says Deloitte
A new report from Deloitte Access Economics predicts the current wave of infrastructure spending across Australia will peak in 2019.

And while it says a number of factors support a view that overall business investment could lift more sharply than currently forecast over the next year or two, Deloitte’s latest Investment Monitor is predicting slower growth.

Government announces projects for ‘congestion busting’ funding
The Federal Government has been making some major announcements in the past two weeks on funding distributions out of its $1 billion Urban Congestion Fund. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has detailed commitments worth $261 million for 14 projects across Melbourne, as well as a $244 million package of works across South East Queensland.

Industry appointments
Cardno has appointed Jamie Alonso as Chief Executive Officer for its Asia Pacific Region. Jamie has close to 30 years’ experience in civil engineering across various disciplines and has held a number of senior regional management roles during his 18-year tenure with Cardno, including operational management, major projects and strategic development.

AECOM has split its Australia New Zealand (ANZ) southern region into two separate markets, led out of Sydney and Melbourne. The move comes about from a strategic repositioning and significant pipeline of work. The New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NAC) is headed up by Kerry van Donderen, and Victoria/South Australia (VSA) by Mark McManamny. Kerry is a chartered engineer with more than 20 years’ experience in the design and project management of major infrastructure projects, both in Australia and the UK, and a Roads Australia Fellow. Mark joined AECOM in 2006 as the group director for civil infrastructure across Victoria and South Australia. He began his career at VicRoads as a roads and highway engineer and has also worked in the UK.

Still at AECOM, after several years of leading the design and planning practice in Victoria/South Australia, Tim O’Loan has been appointed ANZ Cities leader, responsible for overseeing client and market engagement in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland. Tim is the author of two recent AECOM Brilliant City insights reports on Melbourne, and will oversee the practice in helping cities to unlock economic growth and maintain quality of life as their populations grow.

Policy Chapter news
There’s still time to register for our Transport Reform Forum in Sydney on February 28, where we’ll unpack the learnings from our 2018 Cities for the Future study visit and hear the latest news on CAV trials and developments in NSW. We’ll also have details on our 2019 Study Visit to the USA (July 13 – August 4), beginning with the Automated Vehicles Symposium in Orlando, Florida and continuing with stops in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Washington DC and Michigan.

Industry news in brief
A reminder that industry feedback is due this month on two important discussion papers released by the NSW Government’s Construction Leadership Group (CLG). Comments on the Construction Procurement Methods discussion paper are due by February 15, and on the Guidance on Security for Construction Projects paper by February 28. Led by Infrastructure NSW, the CLG is made up of all the key NSW Government agencies engaged in the delivery of the State’s long-term infrastructure pipeline. The discussion papers and information on how to make submissions can be found on the Infrastructure NSW website.

The WA Government is inviting construction and supply chain companies looking to be part of the METRONET Bayswater Station Upgrade and Denny Avenue Level Crossing removal projects to an Industry Briefing on February 26. The briefing will provide an in-depth overview of the procurement strategy, as well as an update on other longer-term projects like the Morley-Ellenbrook Line, Midland, Byford, Karnup and other level crossing removal projects.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says up to 65,000 Western Sydney road users a day will benefit from a planned $480 million investment in major upgrades to Mamre and Mulgoa roads. The Premier has today confirmed Mamre Road will be upgraded along a 3.8 kilometre section to a four-lane dual carriageway between the M4 Motorway and Erskine Park Road, at a cost of $220 million, while a further $260 million will be spent to upgrade Mulgoa Road, from Jeanette Street to Glenmore Parkway and Jamison Road to Blaikie Road.

The first meeting of the Treasurers’ Forum on Population was held today, bringing all levels of government together to discuss how Australia can better plan for population change. Forum members have agreed to work together to develop a national population and planning framework for consideration by COAG later this year, which will set out a practical approach to improve population planning and management. As a first step, the Forum has agreed to immediately establish two working groups – Regional Analysis, and Data and Forecasting – to consider issues including greater data sharing, population growth projections and skill requirements.

The gremlins well and truly got to our item in the last Insider on the upcoming Brisbane breakfast briefing on the precast geopolymer concrete technical specification. CPB Contractors, EIC Activities and Transport and Main Roads are hosting the event on Tuesday February 19 (not November, as we mistakenly reported). It’s hoped the newly released specification will increase the uptake of low carbon concrete options in transport projects. You’ll need to book your seat for this important event.

Another reminder to start thinking about worthy nominees for this year’s John Shaw Medal. The criteria for this prestigious national award is listed on the RA website, where you can also download a nomination form. The close-off date for submissions is March 29.

BMD Constructions and AECOM have been selected as Roads and Maritime Services‘ strategic partners in the Newell Highway Program Alliance, which will deliver a minimum of 45 kilometres of new overtaking lanes to improve safety, reduce travel times, allow more accurate travel planning and improve freight productivity. The new overtaking lanes are expected to provide around 25 minutes of travel time savings along the entire length of the Highway, which stretches from the Victorian to Queensland borders. Work on the first pair of overtaking lanes at Dustys Creek, north of Gilgandra, is expected to start shortly.

Detailed design to widen the Bruce Highway from four to six lanes between Caboolture and Steve Irwin Way is about to start, setting the project up for a 2020 construction start date. Apart from boosting safety and capacity, the $662 million project will improve flood immunity from Caboolture-Bribie Island Road to Steve Irwin Way, with 10 bridges to be replaced as part of the scope.

Victorian Roads and Road Safety Minister, Jaala Pulford, says regional and rural councils can now apply for funding of up up to $1.5 million (out of a $70 million pool) for important road rehabilitation and resealing works, road safety improvements, bridge strengthening and other upgrades. Applications for Round Two of the Fixing Country Roads Program must be in by March 18, with successful projects to be announced in April. In Round One, all 48 councils across country Victoria secured funding, with 91 projects on track for completion by the end of June.

In the ACT, the draft design for the duplication of William Slim Drive between Ginninderra Drive and the Barton Highway has gone on public display. Key features include two lanes in each direction, 6.4 kilometres of new on-road cycle lanes, a new signalised intersection at Dumas Street/William Slim Drive, and additional bus stops and upgrading of existing ones.

Geotechnical investigations have commenced at several locations on the proposed route of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link to inform the detailed Business Case. Construction of the Link is scheduled to start in 2022, subject to required approvals, and take up to nine years to complete.

The SA Government has released its inaugural State Planning Policies (SPPs), setting out a state-wide vision for land use in South Australia. Planning Minister Stephan Knoll says the SPPs unify the disparate and conflicting policy positions that have been held across government for a generation. “For the first time, we have a single policy platform to help us realise our state interests across housing, cultural heritage, primary industry, the environment, transport and natural hazards,” he says. The SPPs are the highest level policy instrument in South Australia’s new planning and development system, which will be fully operational by mid-2020.

The Victorian Government will make changes to the Western Highway duplication alignment between Buangor and Ararat, responding to concerns of the local Aboriginal community. The Government has worked with the indigenous community leaders to ensure two significant trees are retained along the alignment. The realignment includes around one kilometre of localised design changes to avoid the trees.

Boral has unveiled a new road surfacing truck to make the task safer for workers, increase product quality and help reduce infrastructure costs to road agencies. The launch of the Boral FMAS, a Forward Moving Aggregate Spreader, was held at ARRB‘s headquarters in Port Melbourne this week. The Boral FMAS disperses aggregate from the front of the truck via a conveyor belt and spreader box. The forward moving operation allows for clear line of sight for the operator, while also negating the need for reversing or tipping, which in turn minimises risk to people and infrastructure.

Snowy Hydro recently announced it had appointed its preferred tenderers for the Snowy 2.0 project, following an 18-month competitive tender process. The preferred tenderer for the civil works is Future Generation, a partnership between RA members Clough and Salini Impregilo. Voith Hydro is the preferred electrical and mechanical tenderer to deliver the latest hydro-generation technology in the new power station, while Leed Engineering will undertake exploratory works pre-construction activities.

Infrastructure Victoria has begun consultation with the community to inform its research into transport pricing reform. The first meeting of Infrastructure Victoria’s community panel on transport network pricing was held this week to examine whether Victorians would accept a change in the way they pay for roads and public transport. The panel will meet online and face-to-face over the next four weeks before providing a final report and recommendations.

It was announced this week that RA member RPS Group has acquired local infrastructure advisory business Corview. The $32 million deal will add a 45-strong team of strategic, commercial advisory and management consulting specialists to RPS’ growing Asia-Pacific business. RPS’ current workbook includes high profile projects including Western Sydney Airport, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail and Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel.

Don’t forget to complete your enrolments by February 25 for the Semester One courses available through the Centre for Pavement Engineering Education (CPEE). CPEE’s targeted, online course program covers roads, pavements and infrastructure asset management, and provides a unique and convenient option to enhance practical knowledge and qualifications without the need to attend classrooms.

Another one for the diary. The Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA) is holding its 2019 National Conference in Geelong from October 1 to 3. The theme is The Future of Quarrying, with new and emerging technology, resource constraints, health and safety, community and regulatory requirements all on the table for discussion.

IPWEA (NSW) will next month kick off its annual round of one-day regional forums, with 12 events scheduled around the State between March 4 and April 12. Topics and themes under discussion include planning for the future, sustainability, innovative visual and GPS technologies, dealing with organic waste, innovation in public works engineering, the Roads and Transport Directorate Resource, and cadetships.

Transport innovation
The WA Government has launched a Future Battery Industry Strategy to grow the State into a world-leading exporter of future battery minerals, materials, technologies and expertise. It says increased demand for electric vehicles and energy storage systems has created a unique opportunity for Western Australia to become a central player in the global battery value chain. Next steps for the Government include filling current and future skill gaps and facilitating access to infrastructure and funding for technology SMEs. The Government says it will also commit $6 million if it is successful in its bid to host the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre in Perth.

Google’s driverless car project, Waymo, has committed to opening what it claims will be the world’s first factory ‘100 per cent dedicated’ to the mass production of Level 4 autonomous vehicles. (Level 4 automation means no human interaction is required, although there is an option for manual override.) The company will use its new site in the US state of Michigan to integrate its self-driving systems into the vehicles in its fleet, which currently include Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover.

One of RA’s newest members, the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA), has recently released a report that examines the impact of future vehicle trends from its perspective. The report focuses on the technical trends in vehicle manufacture, motorhome importation and driverless technology, as well as international vehicle standards, emissions trading, local car manufacturing capability, vehicle importation, timing of government policy and investment. As the peak national body for the Australian caravanning and camping industry, CIAA represents over 3,500 businesses across the entire supply chain and reaches out to over 313,000 consumers from its database.

Upcoming RA events

  • Feb 20 – Industry lunch with RMS Chief Executive, Ken Kanofski, Sydney.
  • Feb 22 – Industry lunch with DPTI Chief Executive, Tony Braxton-Smith, Adelaide. Proudly sponsored by Fulton Hogan.
  • Feb 28 – Policy event – Cities of the Future Forum, Sydney.
  • Mar 4 – By invitation. RMS Workshop – Sydney Network Readiness for EV & AV.
  • Mar 5 – By invitation. Single-table lunch with Building Queensland CEO, Damian Gould, Brisbane.
  • Mar 6 – By invitation. Single-table lunch with NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, Sydney.
  • Mar 15 – Industry lunch with DTMR Director-General, Neil Scales, Brisbane.
  • Mar 21 – Industry lunch with Major Projects Road Authority CEO, Allen Garner, Melbourne.
  • May 30-31 – 2019 RA Transport Summit, Sydney. Early-bird registration now open.
  • May 30 – John Shaw Award Dinner, Sydney. Member-only registration.

Upcoming industry events

  • March 26-27 – Flexible Pavement Design, Principles and Practice, Brisbane.
  • March 28 – Mechanistic Pavement Design – CIRCLY