'Maintenance in Australia, 2010-2025' is the most recent in a series of comprehensive reviews undertaken by BIS Shrapnel into the industry. This review reports that whilst overall spending suffered during the global financial crisis with firms doing it tough, activity is set to pick up strongly through the middle of the decade across a range of infrastructure and non-residential building sectors.

“Stronger economic growth over the medium term will see assets worked harder from this point forward," says Adrian Hart, senior manager of BIS Shrapnel's Infrastructure and Mining Unit. "Combined with rising incomes for asset owners, this should lead to a catch up of maintenance which was delayed during the downturn. In addition, record levels of construction prior to the economic downturn will also produce a strong increase in maintenance requirements in the medium term."

This forecast is not without risks however. These include success in implementing 'whole of life' asset maintenance strategies, as opposed to major rehabilitation and replacement spending, together with likely shortages in skilled labour and potentially long lead times in training as another cycle in construction gets underway.

Hart believes that contractors are well placed and will win substantially more work over the next five years. The mining, rail and industrial sectors are expected to record robust growth over the same period; however road maintenance spending is forecast to decline over the next three years.