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    ACIF: where is Australia’s construction strategy?

    Geraldine Chua

    The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) has called for a “direct and punchy” construction strategy for the country, asking if our governments just don’t get construction.

    In a recent op-ed on its website, it points to the UK Government’s vision for construction until 2025 as a model example for Australia to follow. Published in July 2013, the UK vision was developed over six months of consultation with industry and implemented by the Construction Leadership Council, which is co-chaired by Australian Sir David Higgins, the former CEO of Lend Lease and current executive chairman of the UK’s High Speed 2 rail project.

    “The Brits seem to be able to move on these things more straightforwardly (only one national government) where we continue to be entertained by squabbles between the Commonwealth Government and the 8 state and territory governments,” observes the ACIF.

    “You don’t need reminding of the farce of national uniformity of occupational licensing as a recent example. Or is it that our governments just don’t get construction?”

    ACIF recommends looking at the UK’s full strategy, but note that “part of its attraction is the simplicity of its vision and associated metrics”:

     

    Our vision for construction in 2025 is:

    1. An industry that attracts and retains a diverse group of multi-talented people, operating under considerably safer and healthier conditions, that has become a sector of choice for young people inspiring them into rewarding professional and vocational careers.

    2. A UK industry that leads the world in research and innovation, transformed by digital design, advanced materials and new technologies, fully embracing the transition to a digital economy and the rise of smart construction.

    3. An industry that has become dramatically more sustainable through its efficient approach to delivering low carbon assets more quickly and at a lower cost, underpinned by strong, integrated supply chains and productive long term relationships.

    4. An industry that drives and sustains growth across the entire economy by designing, manufacturing, building and maintaining assets which deliver genuine whole life value for customers in expanding markets both at home and abroad.

    5. An industry with clear leadership from a Construction Leadership Council that reflects a strong and enduring partnership between industry and Government Construction in 2025 is no longer characterised, as it once was, by late delivery, cost overruns, commercial friction, late payment, accidents, unfavourable workplaces, a workforce unrepresentative of society or as an industry slow to embrace change.

    In short, by 2025 construction has been radically transformed.

    Our joint ambition

    By working in partnership, the construction industry and Government jointly aspire to achieve by 2025:

    1. A 33% reduction in both the initial cost of construction and the whole life cost of assets.

    2. A 50% reduction in the overall time from inception to completion for new build and refurbished assets.

    3. A 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment.

    4. A 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials.

    These are long-term ambitions shared by industry and Government jointly.

     

    However, the ACIF does acknowledge that cooperation and collaboration is alive and well in other areas, giving particular praise to the Australian Building Codes Board’s (ABCB) new strategy to overcome the “internecine warfare” and achieve real benefits for the industry.

    The ABCB recently made industry access to the National Construction Code (NCC) free for the first time – a move that has been welcomed by various industry groups, and which is expected to increase the annual access from 12,000 to approximately 200,000 building practitioners across Australia. 

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