The Federal Government this week announced a plan to review its multibillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment Program to ensure projects of national value and significance can be delivered.
Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew AO said Engineers Australia supported the review, calling it “critical to helping ensure spending doesn’t further fuel current economic challenges”.
“Reviewing this pipeline will provide an opportunity to target investment to ensure best value for money is achieved. Australia’s construction sector is already at breaking point, rising materials costs and labour shortages has caused budgets to blow out and project slippage.”
“Over the past two years, engineering vacancies have grown by 80 per cent nationally. A significant contributor to this increase is infrastructure projects.”
Madew said infrastructure projects are mostly medium-to-long term endeavours, taking years to be completed, so a healthy pipeline of projects to support Australia’s future is vital.
“When reviewing the pipeline, it will be important to give due consideration to changing consumer behaviour and economic priorities,” she said.
“Fiscal policy needs to balance tackling the cost-of-living crisis currently being experienced with investment targeted to support changing societal needs.
“Any funding allocation should also match the importance of policy outcomes, such as sustainability and emissions reductions, rather than just individual projects,” Madew said.
Beyond the economic and societal challenges facing the nation, population growth, space limitations, national net zero emissions targets and more prevalent and extreme natural disasters are major factors impacting Australia’s transport system.
Engineers Australia’s work is supporting the government on tackling this. Investing in transport infrastructure based on past ways of delivering projects will not meet the needs of the future.
“Collaborative, long-term planning of infrastructure is vital to economic prosperity and the wellbeing of the community,” Madew said.
The announcement of the Infrastructure review comes a week after the Federal Government released a Defence Strategic Review that includes initiatives to improve the growth and retention of a highly skilled defence workforce.
Madew continued, “Engineers are vital to achieving a resilient defence sector that is future-ready.”
“We must overcome the engineering skills supply and demand challenges facing Australia which continues to impact defence and the private sector,” she said.
“In our defence submission, we identified workforce as a priority area for immediate action. We need to see broad reforms to strengthen and prepare the ADF for the challenges ahead.”
“As systems become more sophisticated and interdependent, the ADF will become more reliant on the engineering profession.”
Engineers Australia Chief Engineer Jane MacMaster FIEAust CPEng was interviewed on ABC’s Four Corners program this week about the engineering skills that will be needed in Australia to support AUKUS.. You can watch the full program here.