Critical infrastructure projects in WA to cope with mounting population

Western Australia has been blessed with a mining boom which has created rapid economic growth and the lowest unemployment rates in the country. A clear downside of this boom however has been the lack of infrastructure to cope with the immense surge of new residents. With election campaigns now moving into full swing, traffic jams, crowded trains and buses in Perth, inadequate housing and souring rental prices stand out amongst the key areas of debate as infrastructure requirements become more pressing than ever

An extra 78,000 people settled in WA last year to make it Australia’s fastest growing state, with the East Pilbara having an unmatched 82 per cent growth between the 2006 and 2011 census. A recent report by Engineers Australia has revealed that engineering construction is at record levels, although a large amount of WA’s economic infrastructure spending is on resource related infrastructure with water, sewerage, housing and other non-resource related projects lacking attention. Critical infrastructure will open up opportunities for those in the construction sector, with a number of major developments already in the pipeline.

The highly anticipated WA Gateway upgrade is expected to commence in April to improve access to Perth Airport and surrounding areas and the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by Main Roads WA. Royalties for Regions are delivering a number of infrastructure initiatives across regional WA which includes the PortLink Inland Freight Corridor, the Gascoyne Revitalisation Plan, and the $220 million Ord Irrigation Expansion Project developing around 7,400 hectares of agricultural land.

The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia recently revealed Perth’s median house price of $495,000 is just $7,500 shy of Perth’s all-time peak, and there is high demand for new housing across the state. The Brownlie Precinct Regeneration Project is now underway which will see 25 hectares of land developed into 1,500 affordable new homes, civic and community facilities, and commercial and retail opportunities. The Brownlie project is part of the state government’s Affordable Housing Strategy and Directions 2031 and Beyond policy which will see up to 22,000 new dwellings built in the Perth and Peel regions by 2020.

Perth’s public transport system which is severely under strain has been a major point of public anger, with continuing delays in the commencement of major projects. The Labor government has jumped on the opportunity to please voters announcing that the 22-kilometre Metro Area Express (MAX) light rail system would be underway in the first term and be completed by 2018 if they were to win the March election. The light rail system is controversially not part of the Liberal government’s election package to remain in power, with plans to instead expand the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel by removing the emergency lane in an attempt to divert an extra 14,500 vehicles per day away from Riverside Drive during construction of the Perth waterfront project, Elizabeth Quay.

The Elizabeth Quay is one of the many urban development projects planned to revitalize Perth city, along with Perth City Link, the 40-hectare Riverside project which is expected to attract $2 billion of investment to the area and the new 60,000 seat Perth Stadium.  Kings Square in Fremantle is also due for a revamp with a new retail area and office spaces planned.

Suppliers and contractors to the construction industry will be eager to learn about the upcoming projects planned for the state at the 4th Annual WA Major Projects Conference. Being held on 16-17 April at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre the event continues to be the largest major projects and infrastructure conference in Western Australia, attracting over 350 delegates annually. Key speakers at the event include Sue McCarry from the Department of Transport, David Keenan of Siemens Ltd and Silcar, Kieran Kinsella – CEO at Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, Leo Coci – Executive Director of Infrastructure Delivery at Main Roads WA, Paul Roseair from the Department of Regional Development & Lands, and John Savell from the Department of Housing.

For more information on the WA Major Projects Conference 2013 please visit:


Delegates to Seek Leveraging Opportunities at Northern Territory Major Projects Conference

The opportunity to capitalise on proposed infrastructure plans has encouraged over 400 delegates to confirm their attendance at the 3rd Annual Northern Territory Major Projects Conference being held at the Darwin Convention Centre on 30-31 October 2012. This event is the largest in the state’s infrastructure industry, bringing the private and public sector together to discuss the planning and delivery of critical development in resources and mining, housing, health, education, land, justice, tourism, water and transport sectors.

Attendees are eager to learn of openings in the resource sector from ventures such as the Wonarah Rock Phosphate project and the new export facility in the Gulf of Carpentaria for stockpiling bulk commodity. Inpex’s offshore LNG project, Ichthys, was opened in March this year and is the second-largest single resources investment in Australia’s history. The cattle industry is also getting a boost with the Livingstone Valley meat processing facility which is among the projects expected to provide significant social and economic benefits to the Territory. Other topics at the conference, which is being supported by Platinum Sponsor DB Schenker, include the Darwin Prison, the marine supply base and tourism-related investment opportunities.

As a major gas hub the boom in the Northern Territory is showing little sign of slowing, making planned construction projects an attractive leveraging opportunity for businesses. Since 2001, infrastructure spending has risen 252 per cent and has injected a massive $10 billion into the economy. According to the Territory Economic Review released last month, private investment in the Territory increased by nearly 30 per cent in the March 2012 quarter, driven by interest in the major mining projects planned for the region.

Trade with Asia is of growing importance to Australia, accounting to almost 50 per cent of Australia’s merchandise shipments. Darwin’s proximity to Asia positions it perfectly to take advantage of these powerhouse economies. The fully integrated rail and road transport network with the East Arm Port and Darwin Business Park are all advanced initiatives showing private and public sector commitment to the region’s emerging status as a world leader in mineral exploration and extraction. To aid the further growth of the resources industry innovative strategic planning and continued infrastructure investment will be vital.

The Major Projects Conference is being supported by the Northern Territory government which plans to add $1.3 billion over the next 5 years to accompany investments made from the private sector. The expanding on land and offshore exploration activity has driven an influx of newcomers to the Northern Territory and the demand for skilled labourer is on the rise. To support this growth the Department of Construction and Infrastructure is planning new suburbs, road upgrades, and new buildings including hospitals, schools and recreation facilities as well as strategic land developments, all of which are vital in assisting the success of the resource industry.

The event’s notable line-up of speakers include expert geologist Ian Scrimgeour, Terry O’Connor, CEO of the Darwin Port Corporation and John Devereaux of the Power & Water Corporation, who will be revealing the strategic plans, funding requirements and detailing the major projects proposed for the region. Major events sponsors AECOM, QA Software, ProjectLink, Blackwoods, Leighton, MSS, Sitzler, Aconex, ILX Group and KPMG will be among the businesses keen to network with participants.

Expotrade, the organisers of the Northern Territory Major Projects Conference 2012 are expecting this year’s event to be the largest yet. Expotrade is a global conference and event organiser with its head office based in Melbourne, Australia who has delivered some of the largest, most successful B2B industry conferences and events.

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Hiring Skilled Migrants a Complex & Time Consuming Process For Mining Employers

The complexity of migration law and time consuming nature of the process is causing unease for employers in the Western Australian resources sector looking for skilled staff overseas. With major projects being planned for the region the skill shortage now risks impacting on the growth of the industry, and migrants are being taken on to fill the gaps.

Corporate immigration lawyer Ron Kessels has seen a rise in interest in employing staff from overseas, although believes employers are not always fully aware of the immigration laws that apply. The time invested by employers in arranging work visas, sponsorships and complex legal requirements are causing concerns to contractors needing to meet tight deadlines. Many employers are now investing in recruitment agencies to find staff for them, in a bid to save time and avoid heavy penalties associated with breaching legislation.

A survey by the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) has revealed that 55.5 per cent of large companies in Australia are struggling to recruiting skilled staff, particularly in the construction, engineering and manufacturing industries. Some 70 per cent of the 511 companies surveyed stated that they would consider hiring staff from overseas, and over half had already done so.

The industry also faces the growing tension among unions and Australian’s keen to enter the mining industry who believe foreign workers are taking jobs opportunities off locals. Companies are coming under close scrutiny from unions who are particularly active in exposing alleged visa system abusers. To avoid heavily impacting the reputation of both the organisations and immigrants employers are being encouraged to ensure that they are fully compliant with applicable laws.

The shortage of skilled labour is not a new concern for Australia’s mining sector, although resource and energy professionals believe that the size and scope of upcoming projects will overwhelm the native workforce and risk growth and investment into the industry. Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting announced last month that they plan to import 1700 workers from overseas for its Roy Hill Iron Ore project in Pilbara, Western Australia, in order to get the project completed on time and on budget.

Recent government initiative has focused on building a training portfolio to attract and retain a skilled workforce. Training WA and Skilling WA are blueprints and development plans for training delivery and skilling over the next decade, with Training Together – Working Together being the comprehensive plan for Aboriginal training. Hon. Peter Collier, Minister for Energy; Training and Workforce Development; Indigenous Affairs has pledged his commitment to making training and skilling a priority area, and will speak in more depth about government plans at the WA Resources and Infrastructure Conference this September. Over 3000 Western Australian unionists marched last month against imported workers and a lack of training in the construction, forestry, mining and energy sectors.

Kessels will join Hon. Peter Collins as a speaker at the WA Resources and Infrastructure Conference, where he will provide delegates with solutions to the practical issues faced when employing staff from overseas. The annual conference being held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from 12-13th September 2012 will also highlight planned major infrastructure projects and identify other concerns in Western Australia’s energy and resources sector.

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