From the CEO’s Desk

As a sign that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel, RA has recently and successfully dipped its toe back into the water of live events.

Last month we hosted our first ‘COVID-safe’ single-table lunch in more than six months, with Infrastructure SA Chief Executive Jeremy Conway joining senior industry members in Adelaide. This was followed by an industry lunch in Perth last Friday with WA Director General Transport Peter Woronzow.

I’m delighted to announce that next month (October 9) we will host Transport for NSW Secretary Rodd Staples at a COVID-safe industry lunch in Sydney. Although our seating capacity will be far less than would normally be the case, it will nevertheless be a significant opportunity for some much-needed face-to-face networking.

I want to stress that we are taking all the necessary precautions to make these events safe, and will continue to be guided by the directives of respective state and territory governments.

But I think we can all take heart from the fact that, slowly but surely, we are emerging from the long, dark shadow cast by COVID-19.

∗ ∗ ∗

Despite the limitations on live events, RA has continued to enjoy great support from our sponsors throughout 2020.

This week we’ve launched our 2020-21 Sponsorship Program, which outlines our proposed speaker events for the year ahead, as well as a broad range of activities and initiatives that provide stellar opportunities for RA members to be more engaged in what we do.

Once you’ve downloaded the Program, you can get in touch with our National Membership and Event Manager Marlie Curtis to discuss the many outstanding options.

∗ ∗ ∗

Two of RA’s long-standing members have recently completed their transitions to new identities in the marketplace. Salini Impregilo’s Australian arm has officially re-badged under the new global identity of Webuild, while Civilex has this month become Symal Infrastructure, part of the Symal Group.

Meantime, ACCIONA has also completed its $160m acquisition of LendLease Engineering – see below in the Industry News section.

Despite everything that’s happening in the world at large, the wheels of our industry are still turning.

Stay safe and well.

Michael Kilgariff

Shortlist announced for WSA terminal

The vision for Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport is a step closer to reality with three parties shortlisted to build the airport’s passenger terminal.
The three are Lendlease CPB Joint Venture (a joint venture between Lendlease Building and CPB Contractors); Multiplex Constructions; and Watpac Construction.

Read more

AAA challenges Canberra to make states and territories more accountable for infrastructure funding

Australia’s peak motoring body wants next month’s Federal Budget to make state and territory governments more accountable by linking Commonwealth infrastructure funding to reporting obligations.

Read more

Melbourne PT users to shift to cars post-COVID: Monash report

Fewer people will use public transport and revert instead to cars once COVID-19 restrictions ease in Melbourne, causing more congestion. This is among the preliminary findings of a new report by the Monash Public Transport Research Group.

Read more


RA Board member and Australian Constructors Association Executive Chair Craig Laslett has joined the team at Leed Engineering and Construction and will transition into the role of Managing Director and co-owner. Once the transition is complete, founding Director Andrew Millar will continue his active involvement as Chairman of the Board and co-owner of the business. Craig is a civil engineer with a wealth of industry experience and knowledge, having held key leadership roles with several leading civil construction companies, most recently LendLease Engineering.

Beca Group has appointed Dr Kevin Doherty to its Executive Leadership Team as Group Director for Transport and Infrastructure. Kevin has over 30 years’ experience in major project procurement and delivery and in leading and developing high performing infrastructure organisations in Australia and New Zealand – most recently as Chief Executive of Projects Victoria.

Former RA Board member and VicRoads CEO Gary Liddle has been appointed acting CEO of V/Line.

GHD has welcomed Rebecca Want as Market Leader Transport – Sydney Region. Rebecca has provided strategic leadership for some of NSW’s largest infrastructure and transport projects of recent years, including Sydney Metro, Epping Chatswood Rail Link and Airport Line. With over 20 years’ experience in both public and private sectors, she boasts an extensive background across the project life-cycle, including asset management, business case development, customer strategy, design and construction and program management.

Still at GHD, Hugh Swinbourne and Mark Elvidge have been appointed as the company’s Relationship Managers for Transport for NSW and Construction Contractors respectively. Hugh has 35 years’ experience as a professional engineer and is currently Senior Technical Director with GHD’s Environmental assessment and planning team in Sydney. He is an expert practitioner in the environmental assessment of major infrastructure, with a specialisation in major transport projects. Mark has over 20 years of local and international experience in delivering and managing infrastructure projects in Australia, the US and Puerto Rico. A Roads Australia Fellow and a civil engineer by trade, Mark has helped deliver many design alliances and D&C projects in the Sydney area.

Turnbull Engineering has continued its rapid growth in NSW by recently welcoming 25 engineering professionals. They include industry leaders such as Project Executive David Lowe, Executive Kristen Myles, Principal Structural Engineer David Molloy and Principal Civil Engineer Keith Kim.

After more than a decade with Roads Australia, our highly respected Communications Director Mark Bowmer departs the organisation at the end of October. Mark has at various times managed our policy and stakeholder engagement functions and – for many years – our successful conference and speaker programs. But his primary role has been in forging and refining RA’s unique public voice and tone through mediums like the Insider and, more recently, our podcast series. Says RA President Michael Bushby: “As someone who has ‘been on the journey’ since the early days of RA’s rebirth, Mark has been a steady and integral player in our success. He leaves with our thanks and best wishes for the next step in his career.”

Industry Capability Network (ICN) Victoria has announced Dianne Smith as its new CEO, commencing early November. Dianne brings exceptional industry and government connections to ICN, having been Chief Executive of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce (part of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) for the past four years, and a member of the Minister’s Advanced Manufacturing Council.


Our International Insights webinar series kicks off next week with two online events. Sponsored by GTA Consultants, the first on Tuesday 15 September will focus on the evolving role and importance of active transport in multi-modal transport systems, particularly in a post-COVID-19 world. International presenters include Nicoline van Cann from the Netherlands Consulate in Sydney and Professor Serge Hoogendoorn and Dr Sascha Hoogendoorn–Lanser from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. They’ll be joined by a number of local experts.

Sponsored by Arup, our second webinar on Wednesday 16 September will look at how the transition from Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to Electric Vehicles (EVs) is being managed internationally, and what it means for future road transport. Among others, we’ll hear from Sharon Masterson and Pierpaolo Cazzola from the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD.

With our 2020 International Study Visit postponed until next year, these webinars will be great opportunities to find out what’s happening on the global transport scene without leaving your desk.

∗ ∗ ∗

If you missed our regional and rural road safety webinar last month, you can now catch up on the subject matter via our latest Policy Insights paper. In a broad ranging discussion that included driver attitudes on regional roads, star ratings for safety and design issues, our webinar – and subsequent paper – underlines the role that each and every one of us involved in the delivery of road infrastructure can play in improving safety outcomes.


Transport for NSW has announced this week that it’s commencing early talks with the construction industry to help build the 14-kilometre Coffs Harbour bypass. A Market Interaction Process (MIP) is being implemented to gauge industry appetite and feedback on possible models for the procurement of construction services and delivery of the project. The process is in line with the NSW Government’s 10 Point Plan for the Construction Industry, which commits to early market engagement to elicit industry’s views on the best choice of procurement pathway for major projects.

The Barton Highway Upgrade Project Alliance Agreement will see Seymour Whyte and SMEC partner with Transport for NSW to design and build the first stage of the project. This first stage will see a fully duplicated highway delivered between Murrumbateman and the ACT, with the awarding of the contract paving the way for major construction to start later this year.

In North Queensland, the $230 million Townsville Ring Road Stage 5 design and build contract has been awarded to the Georgiou AECOM consortium. Construction is expected to start by mid-2021 and be complete in early 2023, weather and construction conditions permitting. The project is jointly funded, with the Australian Government committing $184 million and Queensland $46 million. Meantime, early works have commenced on the $108 million Bruce Highway – Townsville Northern Access Intersections Upgrade project.

Still in Queensland, the $497 million Mackay Ring Road – one of the region’s largest road infrastructure projects – is officially complete and open to traffic. The 11.3km project, the scope of which included 13 bridge structures including two underpasses and two dual lane roundabouts, was delivered by CPB Contractors.

ACCIONA has completed the acquisition of the ongoing Lendlease Engineering business, marking a significant milestone in the former’s Australia’s history. The $160 million deal comprises the majority of Lendlease Engineering’s construction projects, and pushes out the value of ACCIONA’s local work-in-hand to about $4 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, NorthConnex, Kingsford Smith Drive and the Melbourne Metro projects will remain with Lendlease. ACCIONA’S ANZ CEO Bede Noonan says the acquisition means an expansion not just of the volume of work but also its breadth, from large civil construction work to smaller and more technically niche projects.

One of the last major pieces of the Pacific Highway upgrade is moving into place with the imminent opening of a 34-kilometre section of new dual carriage motorway to bypass the northern NSW towns of Woodburn, Broadwater and Wardell. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack says it will be the largest section of motorway to open to traffic before the duplication of the Pac-way between Hexham and the Queensland border is completed later this year.

In Tasmania, a Request for Proposal (RFP) has been released for the $576 million new Bridgewater Bridge. Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael Ferguson says two tenderers will be selected to compete in an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) process, starting later this year. Construction is due to start in 2022 and be completed by the end of 2024. RFP proposals must be submitted by no later than 2pm on Wednesday October 7.

Meantime, tenders have also been called for the replacement of the Apsley River Bridge, an important regional link to Bicheno on the Tasman Highway. The new bridge, about five kilometres south of Bicheno, will accommodate anticipated future increases in heavy vehicles, and provide greater safety and convenience for tourists and cyclists enjoying the East Coast’s many attractions. Tenders close on September 23 and construction is expected to begin in the 2020-21 construction season.

Still in the Apple Isle, tenders are also open until September 23 for upgrades to the Tasman Highway, between Basin Creek and St Helens. The works represent the next stage of improvements to the Great Eastern Drive.
The Queensland Government has issued a Request for Proposal for the Stage 1 Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade Project. Transport and Main Roads is seeking to enter into an Early Contractor Involvement procurement process for the Stage 1, which is part of the Queensland Government’s progressive upgrade of the North Coast Line (NCL) to improve safety, efficiency and reliability. Closing date for proposals is Thursday September 24.

Half of the tunnelling on the critical M4-M5 Link Tunnels has now been completed, marking a major milestone on ‘the missing link’ in Sydney’s motorway network. Premier Gladys Berejiklian says work on the project is progressing well, and it’s on track to open on schedule in 2023.The project is being delivered by the LSB Joint Venture, comprising RA members Lendlease Engineering, Samsung C&T and Bouygues Construction.

Up to six level crossings will be removed on Perth’s Armadale Line under a business case submitted to Infrastructure Australia. Under the jointly funded $415 million Federal-State plan, the Inner Armadale Line Level Crossing Removal project will remove level crossings at Oats Street, Mint Street and Welshpool Road.The project business case also examines and assesses the removal of a further three level crossings at William Street, Wharf Street and Hamilton Street. Procurement for this METRONET project is expected to begin later this year.

In SA, the preferred design option for the widening of Flagstaff Road has been unveiled, with early construction works set to commence within months. The $33 million upgrade will see the infamous road expanded to a two-way dual carriageway between Hyland Avenue and Bonneyview Road to improve safety and bust traffic congestion. Two prequalified contractors – Bardavcol and BMD Constructions – have been shortlisted to participate in the next phase of the procurement process.

A new priority skills list and strengthened labour market testing will allow small numbers of sponsored skilled workers to return to Australia to fill urgent needs in critical sectors, including construction. The 17 occupations on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) include Construction Project Manager (133111), and are based on advice from the National Skills Commission and consultation with relevant Commonwealth agencies.

The Victorian Transport Association has received a record number of entries for its 2020 Australian Freight Industry Awards, which will now be presented via a free online awards ceremony on November  29. You can register at the Awards website.

Earlier this year, the Australian Financial Review released its list of Australia’s fastest growing companies for the year 2018-19. There are two categories – Fast 100 and Fast Starters – with each assessed on official trading dates and annual turnovers. Rounding up the rapidly growing companies under four years of age, the Fast Starters list included RA member Turnbull Engineering with a revenue growth of 267 per cent over the period.

Transport innovation

Already recognised as the first jurisdiction outside Europe to reach100 per cent renewable electricity, the ACT is now planning to tackle the largest source of emissions – transport. The Zero-Emission Transition Plan for Transport Canberra articulates how the ACT Government will transition its bus fleet by as early as 2037 from ageing diesel and compressed natural gas powered to modern battery electric buses powered with the ACT’s 100 per cent renewable electricity. This will coincide with plans for electric charging infrastructure and new depots to support the growing fleet of zero-emission buses. Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel says the target is realistic, with analysis showing that 78 per cent of Transport Canberra bus routes can be serviced by current battery electric bus technology.

The NSW Government has released new guidelines to help industry navigate the steps for establishing and operating glass-recycling facilities and processing glassto the standard required by Transport for NSW. Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance says TfNSW has already incorporated the use of recycled crushed glass on a number of its construction and maintenance projects, and has the potential to use up to 45,000 tonnes in the next three financial years – equating to 234 million glass bottles.

In addition to the new guidelines, the NSW Government has awarded more than $735,000 in grants to three separate projects which will unlock new markets for the use of recycled glass in road
construction. Fulton Hogan has been awarded $250,000 to upgrade its Eastern Creek asphalt
plant and a further $236,000 grant to use recycled glass as a replacement for natural
sand in asphalt on construction of the Albion Park Rail Bypass. John Holland has also received a grant of $250,000 to develop and trial geopolymer concrete containing recycled crushed glass as a replacement for virgin sand.

Diversity and social responsibility

Victoria’s Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) is inviting local industry to tune-in at 9.30am on October 20 for an hour-long, live-streamed information session on its Women in Transport (WiT) Mentoring Program. The aim is to attract potential mentors from the Training for the Future (TFTF) program partners, MTIA projects and others in Victoria’s transport and infrastructure industry. Keynote speaker Lucy Lloyd, CEO of Mentorloop, will talk about why mentoring matters, and will be joined by some of the program’s existing mentors and mentees. If you’re interested in registering, email Lizzy Kuoth, Inclusion and Capability Officer at the Level Crossing Removal Project.
The Victorian Government has appointed the state’s first Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner. Niki Vincent will provide independent oversight of Victoria’s Gender Equality Act 2020 and play a key leadership role in promoting gender equality across the Victorian community and workplaces. Dr Vincent brings a wealth of experience in gender equality and organisational leadership, having most recently served as Commissioner for Equal Opportunity in South Australia and as a former CEO of the Leaders Institute of South Australia.

With yesterday being R U OK? Day, it’s worth noting that RA’s Fellows have taken up the challenge of improving workplace mental health in 2020. Each year our Fellows break into groups to undertake a project aimed at delivering practical outcomes on a particular industry challenge. This year’s group projects are all about redesigning work to reduce mental harm, with the aim of providing our members with some useful tools to ensure their employees can sustainably deliver the next wave of projects.
We’ve just received the final papers and look forward to seeing the final presentations in November. In the meantime, if you’re keen to put your hand up as a resource to our Fellows and have a passion for improving the mental health of the white collar workforce, drop a line to Marlie Curtis.

Upcoming RA events

Sept 15 – RA Policy Webinar – International insights:active transport in a multi-modal transport system. Proudly sponsored by GTA Consultants.
Sept 16 – RA Emerging Leaders – West Gate Tunnel project snapshot. Part of the 2020 Arup Series.
Sept 16 – RA Policy Webinar – International insights: moving from ICE powered vehicles to EVs. Proudly sponsored by Arup.
Sept 22 – By-invitation. Single table dinner with TfNSW’s John Hardwick, Sydney. Proudly sponsored by Gamuda.
Sept 30 – By invitation. Webinar with NZ Transport Agency’s GM of Transport Services, Brett Gliddon. Proudly sponsored by Ventia.
Oct 1 – RA Women’s Network Webinar with Workplace Gender Equality Agency CEO Libby Lyons.
Oct 9 – Industry lunch with TfNSW Secretary Rodd Staples, Sydney.
June 16-18 2021 – RA Transport Summit, Sydney. Bookings now open.
June 17 2021 – John Shaw Dinner, Sydney. Bookings now open.

Upcoming industry events and training

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).
Nov 4 & 5 – CPEE short course: Concrete Pavement Design Fundamentals (including optional workshop)
Nov 17 & 19 – Flexible Pavement Design: Unbound – Basic Principles and Practices (including optional workshop)