Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 4 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding 43
Volume 4 Number 1
power -- 67 per cent of Australia's total renewable
energy at the moment. The pump station had 145
kilometres of tunnel and 80 kilometres of pipelines
and aqueducts. Only two per cent of that project is
visible above the ground; the rest is hidden.
But beyond these statistics and facts is an
incredible story of the success and endurance needed
to deliver a project that has stood the test of time.
It's a reminder of the perseverance required in
challenging times, and the impact that these types of
projects can have on a country's culture and psyche
-- and I think that's an important issue.
The project was notable for its immigrant
workforce following the end of World War II. It
was the start of a huge surge of immigration to
Australia, such that now more than 50 per cent of our
population is made up of immigrants or the children
of immigrants, which contributes to the true diversity
that we see in Australia.
The point I'm making is that the implications for
Australia of these mega-infrastructure and resources
projects go beyond just the commercial imperatives.
The spin-offs can be both nation-building and nation-
changing. They can change both our culture and the
lifestyles of the communities in which we live, and
when we look at these projects we need to take that
into account. It's very dif cult to put a dollar value on
it, but it's something that is very real with regard to
how it impacts on our society.
Back to the present, and I'm going to talk about
surviving in our industry.
Surviving -- let alone thriving -- in today's economy
has become a real feat in this industry, as construction
is very volatile.
Of cial statistics released just a few months ago
reveal that, in construction and the building-related
sector, two companies per day are collapsing as late
payments from debtors worsen, activity dries up and
banks tighten funding.
Figures on liquidations and voluntary
administration, reported in the media, show that
between 1 June and 18 July 2013 -- approximately
six weeks -- almost 100 companies in the
construction and related industries collapsed,
including 23 in Victoria, 45 in New South Wales,
and 15 in Queensland.
Many of these are smaller organisations, certainly,
but there have been some other high-pro le failures
over the past 18 months, including the Hastie Group
and Reed Construction.
And yet, according to the latest Australian Bureau
of Statistics (ABS) gures, the value of total engineering
construction work that has been completed fell only
1.6 per cent in the June 2013 quarter, and this is
coming down from record highs previously.
The total value of engineering construction
in 1990 in Australia was $20 billion. By 2000, it
was $28 billion, in 2005 it was $48 billion, and in
2008, just before the downturn, it was $71 billion.
Then, in 2009, it was $77 billion, and by 2010 it
was $79 billion.
Of cial statistics released
just a few months ago reveal
that, in construction and
the building-related sector,
two companies per day are
collapsing as late payments
from debtors worsen, activity
dries up and banks tighten
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