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Infrastructure demand far outweighs Australian supply



Infrastructure Australia has released its first Infrastructure Market Capacity report, forecasting an inability for the construction and materials industries to meet some grand plans.

The report came in response to a request from the Council of Australian Governments in March 2020 to understand the variance between supply and demand in the Australian construction sector.

The report found that the peak in demand for construction materials over the coming years will be 48 per cent higher than the supply.

Infrastructure Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said the plans set out for infrastructure growth sounds nice in theory.

“Major public infrastructure activity will approximately double over the next three years, peaking at $52 billion in 2023,” Madew said.

“This record investment creates new opportunities for local business and employment, however also risks constraints in the capacity of the market to meet this growth in investment.”

The report found an average annual growth rate of 33 per cent, but a dwindling amount of confidence that the industry could produce more than 15 per cent.

This coincided with startling figures surrounding employment, according to Madew.

“In mid-2023 the employment in the infrastructure sector will need to grow from 183,000 people today to more than 288,000,” Madew said.

“Potential shortfalls in jobs being filled is forecast to exceed 105,000, with one in three jobs advertised going unfilled.

“This presents an opportunity for further employment, but there is also a risk these roles will be unfilled.”

Cement Concretes & Aggregates Australia (CCAA) chief executive officer Ken Slattery told Quarry he would simply appreciate more collaboration as Australia’s pipeline overflows.

“Some of our key points on the issue were that quite often the planning and development of the infrastructure plan takes place in isolation from the industry,” Slattery said.

“This involves various state infrastructure bodies competing on various projects and creating real pressure points.”

“There’s not a huge amount of co-ordination that’s gone on and one of the mantras that’s been included in Infrastructure Australia’s plan is that there needs to be slower and more planned processes in this area to ensure the required resources – materials and skills – are available.”

Slattery said such collaboration must occur at macro- and micro0-levels of the construction and materials sectors – with bodies like the CCAA and with the quarries who will deliver for the pipeline.

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