Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 4 Number 1 Contents 42 futurebuilding Volume 4 Number 1
I think it's very timely, when we look at new
governments, that we bring infrastructure right back
to the forefront of our agenda.
When I think about the construction industry and
how it's evolved over the years, there's something
very Australian about what we do and the journey
our industry has taken.
We talk about can-do culture in this country, and
that's very much a part of what construction is about
-- taking on challenging environments and turning
them into what we call landmark legacies for the
country, and for the communities in which we live.
When we talk about landmark legacies and
projects, I always hark back to the Snowy Mountains
Hydroelectric Scheme, which is even more
appropriate at the moment, because this scheme was
built over a 25-year period between 1949 and 1974.
This was a nation-building project -- I think the
rst of its kind in this country. Thiess played a vital
role -- we ended up constructing almost 25 per cent
of that project, whereas in the early days it was almost
entirely foreign contractors constructing it, as local
contractors were deemed not to have the technology
That's an interesting scenario in itself -- how quickly
you learn what needs to be done in these projects.
At the time, the cost was a huge $820 million
-- that's roughly $6 billion in today's terms. So this
project that we all look back on is, in fact, relatively
small in the scheme of things, when you compare
it to what is being built around the country today --
particularly some of the infrastructure projects and the
big investments being made in our resources sector.
The Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme set
construction records and was completed on time and
on budget, and that in itself also sets it apart from
The project included 1600 kilometres of roads
and tracks in quite a harsh environment, seven
townships, more than 100 camps, construction of 16
major dams, and seven hydroelectric power stations
generating almost 4000 megawatts of renewable
Despite ongoing challenges and signs the
construction sector may be slowing as
Australia transitions away from the capital-
intensive phase of the mining boom, activity
remains at historically high levels, according
to Thiess Managing Director, Bruce Munro.
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