Maritime | Maritime and Transport | Rail

Infrastructure takes the driving seat in WA’s economic future

22 Aug 2013, by Informa Australia

Thank you to everyone who attended the 10th annual WA Transport Infrastructure Summit in Perth. 01_StateOfGrowth

Chaired by Jamie BradfordChair of CILTA (WA) and Senior Associate with Sinclair Knight Merz, this year’s conference was aptly timed a week after the WA State Budget and reinforced the role that transport infrastructure plays in securing and building WA’s economic future. Echoing a number of key budget facts and figures, the key themes to emerge from conference discussions was the need to facilitate transport infrastructure as a key driver to international competitiveness and the need for new finance models to be explored.

“We know what infrastructure is needed” was a common thread and instead, discussion focused on the “need to get it right” with strategies and solutions to best implement and finance the infrastructure needed.

06_MovingWAPopulation and resources growth have the WA economy forecast to grow by 3.25% in 2013‑14 (the highest rate of growth forecast for any State this year) and the State Government in investing in transport infrastructure at an unprecedented rate including :

  • $432million over the next four years for the $1.9billion MAX light rail service
  • $174million over the next four years for the $2billion airport rail link
  • $325million over the next four years for the Perth to Darwin Highway
  • $1.8billion on new roads and maintenance of existing road network

Bankwest’s chief economist, Alan Langford profiled WA’s market outlook and while some analysts are bemoaning the end of the resources boom, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia’s Director, Nicole Roocke was confident that growth will continue as the sector transitions from a construction to operational phrase. Ms Roocke explained what this transition will mean for transport, including changes in aviation schedules and changes in what’s transported with product replacing construction equipment.

The industry represents 21% of State’s revenue and a number of speakers reflected that the industry’s earlier construction boom provided a number of lessons by highlighting the existing gaps and bottlenecks in the State’s transport network. As resource operations ramp up now is the time to prepare and plan and Chris Adams, CEO, Shire of Roebourne; Brett Reiss, Program Director Airport Redevelopment, Town of Port Hedland and Merren McArthur, Group Executive, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines discussed how their organisations are preparing for the next big boom by meeting the demands of the FIFO market.

Mr Adam’s presentation provided a snapshot of some of the key and common transport themes:

  • Be prepared…
  • Cumulative impact planning is critical
  • Integration of approvals is necessary and approvals take time
  • Government simply can’t afford to build the infrastructure that is required.  Need new investment models
  • Common user infrastructure sounds good but has been hard to achieve

Supporting this growth is not just about investing in the ‘new’ but also improving the efficiency of existing transport infrastructure and Sue McCarrey, Deputy Director General, Department of Transport detailed the Government’s planning and policy priorities with an overview of the benefits of PortLink and the Regional Freight Transport Network Plan.

WA’s ports were allocated upgrade funds ranging from $2m to $21m in the 2013/14 state budget and the role of WA’s ports in facilitating growth was highlighted in the talks by Peter Klein, CEO, Port of Geraldton; Roger Johnston, CEO, Port Hedland Port Authority and Ted Williams, Project Director MUIOF, Esperance Ports – Sea & Land.

How did these three ports fare in the 2013/14 Budget?

  • Port Hedland received $15.5m for works , including $6m for Main Street Jetty
  • Geraldton Port Authority will see $12m for improvements
  • $7.7m has been assigned for Esperance Port Authority improvements, including $4.7m for the Hughes Road upgrade

Against this backdrop of State funding, it was interesting to note that while the ports are exploring different procurement and finance models, all recognize the role ports play in their community.

While export growth means WA continues to be the nation’s “engine room”, ports and other transport operators need to engage with the community, different levels of government and other industry stakeholders.

Antony Sprigg, CEO, ISCA presenting Rating certificates to Leo Coci, Executive Director, Infrastructure Transport Directorate,  Main Roads WA; Stephen Nicolay (Leighton Contractors) and Erik Geidans from GHD
Antony Sprigg, CEO, ISCA presenting Rating certificates to Leo Coci, Executive Director, Infrastructure Transport Directorate, Main Roads WA; Stephen Nicolay, Leighton Contractors and Erik Geidans from GHD

ISCA’s WA Transport Sustainability Announcement and presentation to the City East Alliance (CEA) team who delivered the Great Eastern Highway Upgrade at the end of the first day highlighted the benefits of industry engagement and provided the conference’s social highlight! Announced by ISCA CEO Anthony Spring, the award takes into account all aspects of infrastructure delivery and highlights three areas where the CEA team best demonstrated sustainable practices – project management systems, materials and land management. This is Australia’s first Certified Infrastructure Sustainability As Built rating by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) and highlighted WA’s leadership in advancing sustainability.

It wasn’t all about freight. One of the best quote’s of the day came from the City of Perth’s CEO, Gary Stevenson PSM, “If you build for cars, you get cars. If you build for people, you get benefits for people”.

You’ll hear more about Gary’s ‘Stevenson hip-pocket-burn Plan’ and the finance models discussed at the conference in the next issue.

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