In undertaking this inquiry, the committee recognises that it was important to first understand the context and scale of the amplified infrastructure pipeline resulting from recent injections of investment. Chapter 2 sets the scene accordingly, by examining the challenges and opportunities that the infrastructure pipeline presents for governments and the infrastructure sector.
Chapter 3 covers funding and administering government infrastructure projects and the leadership role for government in driving more strategic and sophisticated approaches to infrastructure planning and coordination, and better alignment across federal, state and territory, and local governments. The committee recognises that for procurement to play its role, the pillars of strong government vision and leadership need to be in place.
The next chapters then focus on key aspects of the procurement process and how, if approached strategically and holistically, the Australian government can help ensure its investment in infrastructure is optimised.
Chapter 4 covers current procurement practices and reforms. In particular, the committee closely examines project planning, how thoroughly real value is assessed in procurement, and approaches to risk allocation on projects.
Opportunities for greater collaboration and industry engagement, and best practice models for project contracts, are explored in Chapter 5. Issues related to Australia’s industry capacity are the focus of Chapter 6, including the inherent tensions between meeting international free trade obligations and supporting the growth of Australian industry capability. Here, the committee examines approaches to using local content and increasing small and medium enterprises’ participation in government-funded infrastructure projects. Chapter 7 then explores the benefits of better integrating digital technology throughout the infrastructure procurement, planning and delivery cycle, to maximise efficiency and productivity.
In addition to seeking specific procurement reforms, the committee recognises that without addressing underlying challenges in the construction sector the industry may not be best positioned to deliver the ambitious pipeline of current infrastructure projects. Accordingly, Chapter 8 discusses productivity challenges and the need for cultural reform in the construction industry.