Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 5 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding 43
Volume 5 Number 1
phase by two or three months, as we have a very
good idea of what we think is happening in New
South Wales and Victoria, and we're trying to plot our
way now as to where to position projects in order to
get access to the good bid teams.
Our perspective is that if you do get bid teams
that have been together and have done their job, and
then can immediately move straight on to the next
project, then it's normally the next government that
bene ts from that because their capacity to innovate,
and their capacity to put together good deals and
good offers is enhanced. So, I'd always try to get a bid
process in the sweet spot if we possibly can.
In terms of a shortage of project directors on the
government side, unfortunately, governments have
been very good at promoting people who are good
at what they do, and that's tended to mean that good
project directors get promoted out of the infrastructure
sector and into something else. Les Wielinga (former
Director General of Transport for NSW) was a very
good project director before becoming a Director
General. Dave Stewart was a very good project
director in Queensland, and is now working in New
South Wales as a Departmental Secretary.
Governments, in a sense, struggle a little bit with
the concept of project directors in terms of how you
de ne their permanent roles in government. I think
that is part of why that issue exists. It is a challenge.
JB: Having a pipeline of projects enables you to
start doing the succession planning. So, I think of Ken
[Mathers] working on CityLink in the 1990s; you look
at Rodd Staples (Project Director) on North West Rail
Link, Corey Hannett on Regional Rail Link in Victoria
-- you can see that generation of really high-calibre
project managers coming through. It all helps to have
MZ: I want to explore the Federal Government's
role in infrastructure, and particularly Infrastructure
Australia. What's the ideal role for Canberra to play?
JB: The main thing that we'd like from Canberra
at the moment is role clarity between the Department
of Infrastructure and Regional Development,
and Infrastructure Australia, and I think that both
organisations would want that themselves.
Infrastructure Australia has been an
unambiguously positive thing in terms of lifting
the debate about infrastructure beyond the narrow
con nes of the forward estimates period, and
encouraging really good planning. I think that's
been the best of Infrastructure Australia. The worst
of Infrastructure Australia has been the paralysis
by analysis, so that after six or seven years of
Infrastructure Australia's existence, if you looked at
the 'Ready to Proceed' list, nationally there were
only half a dozen projects in there -- a couple of
managed motorway projects, and a few others.
And certainly I felt some frustration in Victoria
working on the Melbourne Metro project. There
seemed to be constant requests for analysis, which
would clarify whether the bene t cost ratio was 1.19
or 1.18. I thought that there were opportunities to cut
to the chase there.
I think that the re-establishment and refresh
of the Board is a really positive thing. There are
really quality people on there like Peter Watson,
Michael Carapiet and Dr Kerry Schott, and that
will continue to stand Infrastructure Australia in
really good stead.
But I think that maybe when it drifts over into
unsolicited policy generation, that's where a bit of
frustration comes in, in terms of who our interlocutor
is at the Commonwealth level. Should we be talking
to Infrastructure Australia, or should we be talking
to the Department? Recognising that Infrastructure
Australia is an advisory body, and that the Department
is the one that is associated with the ultimate funding
decisions, is important.
What Infrastructure Australia shouldn't do is
generate a huge standing army of analysts in its own
right. By far, the best way of proceeding is to try to
inculcate good practice into the jurisdictions and
enable them to produce the business cases, and do
the assurance around those business cases.
These guys know how to do business cases, they
know how to assure them, and they have their investor
roles properly thought through, and their high-value,
high-risk type process -- as opposed to Infrastructure
Australia replicating what should be the responsibility
of jurisdictions both at the development stage and the
Where we interact with the Commonwealth
once projects have been funded, it's a pretty good
interaction. The Commonwealth has been pretty
good at striking the right balance between making
sure it has its eye on the ball in terms of following the
money, ensuring that good governance is in place,
but not getting intrusively over-involved in projects.
The Department is getting that balance right.
Delivery of major projects in Australia -- panel discussion
continued on page 46
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