21/01/2009 - 22:00

Engineers slam project delays

21/01/2009 - 22:00

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Western Australia's leading consulting engineers have expressed concern over the state government's capital works program, after a number of advanced projects were put on hold.

Engineers slam project delays

Western Australia's leading consulting engineers have expressed concern over the state government's capital works program, after a number of advanced projects were put on hold.

Speaking at a WA Business News boardroom lunch this month, Wood and Grieve Engineers director Matt Davis said that, while he understood the financial pressure on the government, it was now becoming part of the problem instead of working to find a solution.

"Where the federal government is saying 'we'll help things keep going by putting money into capital works', the state government is doing the opposite.

"The state government's capital works is winding back at the same time as [the private sector] is. You think, at least schools and hospitals and sports stadiums will keep going because that's state government funded, that's no longer the case."

Mr Davis said Wood and Grieve was part of the consulting team for FESA's proposed new headquarters, which has been put on hold.

BG&E Engineering director Judith Uren believes the uncertainty surrounding exactly which projects are going ahead is causing major headaches across the industry.

"They're not really sure what the key projects are going to be," Ms Uren said.

"So they're tossing up is it going to be the Ord River? Is it going to be Port Hedland?

"Where is it going to be?"

Significant flow-on effects from the uncertainty are already occurring, with staff cuts occurring in professional sectors.

"You're seeing architectural practices laying off people, consulting engineers are probably the next in line and then things will really start squealing when it starts to come to the builders themselves," Mr Davis said.

Mr Davis also believes the government's announcements of new capital works projects such as the Albany and Kalgoorlie hospitals are not new but have always been in the program.

"In fact, they're taking [out] some projects they've decided not to proceed with so, if anything, projects are coming out of the capital works program," he said.

"So compared to the position we were in six months ago, the capital works program from the state government, there's less there."

Connell Wagner director of WA operations Charles Milazzo, feels WA should take a leaf out of Queensland's book.

"I think they [the Queensland government] have a very sound government works program that is going to keep progressing and keep this whole sector afloat while private sector monies start to falter," Mr Milazzo told the boardroom forum.

That sentiment was echoed by Arup associate Josh Neil.

"All the ducks are lined up in a row and Queensland has got a fantastic infrastructure plan," Mr Neil said.

"Now is the time for key state building projects to really power ahead."

Treasurer Troy Buswell said this week the capital works audit being carried out by the government will bring some reality back into the capital works program.

"Quite clearly there will have to be cuts in aggregate in relation to the capital works program across the four years of forward estimates for a couple of reasons," Mr Buswell said.

"A, it's not affordable and b, it's not deliverable. But there's nothing to say as a result of that audit that some capital works programs may be brought forward."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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