Industry News, Latest News, Roads Review

Roads Review: Forward Projection

Sally Stannard has been announced as the new Director-General of the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).

This month, we asked the industry decision-makers, ‘What can the industry look forward to heading into 2023?’

Dr M. Reza Hosseini – Associate Head Of School (Research), Deakin University

Judging from current trends, the industry will look forward to two major transitions in 2023 and upcoming years. The first one would be a noticeable increase in the automation of construction processes, enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, mostly propelled by start-ups. The second major one would be a growing interest toward green and sustainable practices. There will be a considerable effort for managing the episode of change for a shift towards making construction deeply intertwined with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. We will therefore see a rise of AI along with a shift towards green construction in 2023.


Owen Buckley – General Manager, Ratings and Delivery, Infrastructure Sustainability Council

As the Federal Government starts to shift its focus to 2030 and 2050 climate targets, and its implications for infrastructure spending, it is important that industry looks to embed sustainability and consideration of carbon into all decision making. The Infrastructure Sustainability Council will be releasing to market two tools that will provide guidance to industry, and assurance to government on sustainability outcomes. The Planning Rating tool will support strategic and detailed planning and business case development, and the IS Essentials Digital Rating tool will allow for the scaling down of objectives within smaller projects (less than $100 million).


Allen Garner – Chief Executive Officer, Major Road Projects Victoria

It’s a demanding and exciting time for Australia’s roads infrastructure industry and this will only intensify next year. Our flood recovery effort along the eastern seaboard needs immediate support and long-term strategy to build resilience into our road infrastructure. Major Road Projects Victoria will expand our successful Program Delivery Approach model – where road upgrades are awarded to pre-qualified contractors – and we’ll grow our use of digital engineering to boost delivery efficiency. We’ll use Victoria’s massive investment in roads infrastructure to keep progressing social procurement initiatives and push our state to view waste as a vital construction resource.


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Stephen Cowan – Chief Commercial Officer, Coates 

2023 is showing signs of being a transition year with business returning to a more normal state. While supply chains remain impacted, we hope to see those impacts start to correct themselves over the next 12 months, particularly for parts and vehicles. Managing our business to normal timeframes and dealing with the backlog of orders for customers is a priority. In addition, labour shortages should start to ease. The Federal Government’s permanent migration cap increase will help, and as the world returns to a pre-pandemic norm, we should see skilled migrants wanting to again move to Australia for employment and its climate. This will ease capacity pressures on the construction and infrastructure industry. As these factors begin to normalise, we’ll see demand increase across all sectors. To meet this demand, Australia will rely on a strong transport and logistics sector as the backbone of an economic upswing, ensuring orders for everything from vehicles to goods and commodities are met across the country.


Graeme Johnson – Chief Executive Officer, Fulton Hogan Australia 

High-quality, efficient transport systems built off long-lived infrastructure assets are among the key building-blocks that support communities to prosper. For long-term success, asset-owners need to ensure that ambitions for new capital investment to grow the capacity of the transport system are better matched to increases in sustainment capital that ensure whole-of-life performance of the existing asset base can be realised. Increases to maintenance funding, improvements to strategic asset management and realisation of value for money, productivity and sustainability through competitively outsourced operations and maintenance should be forefront in the thinking of asset owners and the supply-chain for 2023 and beyond.


Simon Squire – Director and Junior Vice President, AIQS

Continued volatility and multiple fractured trajectories is the short-term outlook. The market is then expected to ease to a new high norm. However, in saying that, there are several big caveats; that the conflict in Ukraine eases, rising inflation globally subdues and China gets back to pre-pandemic production levels – all these issues could have further surprising impacts that we just can’t forecast currently. Additionally, while escalations may ease, the focus will then shift to certainty of supply and delivery. Even if you’ve budgeted for higher prices, you can’t always guarantee product availability. Shipping rates may be easing but certainty in delivery will be the issue. Preplanning therefore is expected to be a 2023 industry buzzword.


This article was originally published in the December edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

If you or someone at your organisation is an industry leader and would like to be a part of this monthly column in 2023, please get in touch with Editor, Tom O’Keane:

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