20/07/2021 - 11:00

Pressure builds in project pipeline

20/07/2021 - 11:00

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WA’s cluster of road and rail projects could face delays as the state’s planning minister has acknowledged a need to better spread works across the forward estimates.

Pressure builds in project pipeline
Rita Saffioti speaking at a Business News Politics & Policy briefing this morning. Photo: Matt Jelonek

Western Australia’s cluster of road and rail projects could face delays as the state’s planning minister has acknowledged a need to better spread works across the forward estimates.

That comes just one day before Infrastructure WA is set to announce its draft strategy document outlining the state’s infrastructure priorities over the next 20 years.

John Langoulant, the agency’s chair, told Business News the document would focus on themes and issues affecting infrastructure in WA, as opposed to making recommendations on specific projects.

Still, Business News estimates $6.3 billion will be spent on road, rail and port works in metropolitan Perth through to the middle of the decade, with completion of Metronet and commencement of Westport adding to that pipeline of works.

Rita Saffioti, who has served as the state’s planning minister since 2017 and took on the ports portfolio after the state election in March, was keen to promote these projects at a Business News Politics & Policy briefing this morning.

She noted, though, that she had met with industry stakeholders who expressed concerns with the volume of contracts on offer, and that they had recommended the state government better disburse those works over the forward estimates.

“For example, a typical government forward program of investment normally has a very high peak, and then those programs drop away in year three and four,” she said.

“There is a strong argument for the government to better smooth out our infrastructure pipeline, and that is what we’ll be again engaging with industry to do.

“A longer pipeline, of course, reduces the competition between private and public investment, but also gives greater consistency and certainty to construction companies going forward to employ local people and invest in equipment.

“We’ll continue to work with industry to see how we can all support each other in what will be a very exciting but challenging few years ahead.”

When asked whether her comments reflected possible delays to the state government’s infrastructure works, Ms Saffioti said she would be working with industry to best deliver those works.

She said she would provide a timeline after further consultation with industry.

“There’s a lot of heat in the economy and that’s very clear,” she said.

“To be quite clear, we’re talking to industry; we had the skills summit, but we’re looking at the whole program of works.

“It might be projects that haven’t commenced, we might delay for six months.

“They might not be major delays, but in some projects, we may delay six to 12 months just to get through the next year.”

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