‘Turbulent’ policy impacts stability

05 July, 2017

No topic was off limits as WA’s biggest players rolled into CCIWA’s construction and resources conference on June 29.

Topics covered included the state of the construction industry, technology in oil and gas and the state of government relations.

Inpex’s General Manager External Affairs and Joint Venture Bill Townsend spoke about its massive Ichthys LNG project about to come online off WA’s north west shelf.

He also brought up the less predictable nature of government, which has presented them with issues.

“I’m pleased to say we have had strong support over successive governments over 20 years as we have developed the Ichthys project,” he said.

“Our message to government is a simple one and that is that we value stability, we value stable policy settings, we value a stable fiscal regime and we value a stable regulatory framework.

“This is especially important for projects like Ichthys, where we are investing for literally decades.

“For us, 2017 has been a very busy year on a government relations front and perhaps a little more turbulent than we would like.

“Some of the issues we’re currently dealing with are the petroleum resource rent tax review, climate change review, a senate inquiry into multinational tax avoidance, 457 visa changes, Australian domestic gas security mechanism and moratoria on unconventional development and exploration, which is more of a state issue generally but has ramifications for the Federal Government as well.”

Townsend says the perception of Australia is changing for business.

“The message that is being received at boardrooms across the world is that Australia is being less open to foreign investment and less welcome to international labour,” he says.

“While I know this is not entirely true, it is the perception that is being felt by many.

“Fortunately, we do have as strong relationship with the government and these relationships allow us to openly discuss our views, share our ideas and raise our concerns.

“It is this open and transparent approach taken by the Australian government, which is, I would say, exceptional in my experience and is to be commended.”

On the construction front, Multiplex Regional Director Jason Thomson said design shortcomings were affecting “every aspect” of major projects at present, including procurement, retro-fitting and even health and safety.

“Probably our biggest bugbear in the industry now is poor-quality, incomplete, uncoordinated and late design across all our projects,” he told the CCI Resource and Construction Conference.

“On some of our larger projects we are seeing 30,000 drawing revisions through the life of the project,” he said.

“In some we were getting up to 50 revisions a day. You cannot build in an efficient manner with so much change going on.”

Another issue was the “off-shoring” of design work to Asian countries such as the Philippines and Thailand, all with different standards and work practices.

“Also, the design process does not get enough respect from a time perspective,” he said.

“The clients may get the design to 20-40 per cent and think, ‘Bang, let’s appoint a builder’.

“Respecting the design process and allocating a proper amount of time would go a long way to solving a lot of the problems we are seeing.”

Thomson updated progress on Multiplex’s WA projects, including the Capital Square development on the corner of Spring Street and Mount’s Bay Road – the Old Emu Brewery site.

Multiplex had recently finished Tower One – a 56,000sq m premium-grade commercial office tower across 30 levels, with Woodside Petroleum to be sole tenants of the building.

“The second part of the puzzle is the podium – a four-level structure, it is 40,000 square metres and goes between Mount Street and Spring Street, and sort of wraps around the tower.

“It is under construction now and we’ll be finishing by mid-August.”

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