The private and public sectors need to work hand in hand to avoid the infrastructure disaster that unfolded during WA’s last construction and mining boom, says the head of a new peak body tasked with driving a 20-year roadmap for State development.
Infrastructure WA chairman-designate John Langoulant said yesterday that in 2007 there had been a clear need for accommodation to deal with the pending economic surge but nothing was done.
“We were going to need 350,000 new jobs in WA to meet the demand,” he told a lunch event in Perth.
“We did nothing in terms of planning for accommodating those 350,000, particularly in the Pilbara but it was done when people were sleeping in cars on the Burrup. By the time we got the accommodation, the peak was gone. One of the things we have to be better at is trying to pick the cycle.”
To avoid similar scenarios, Mr Langoulant said IWA needed to gauge public and private sector infrastructure needs.
“We’re going to work with the private sector,” he said. “We’re going to reach out to get an understanding of where the major infrastructure spend is going to be.
“There will be commercial issues we need to be sensitive about … (but) we don’t want a situation in that last boom where we as a public sector missed substantially the pressures that were coming out of the private sector.
“We’ll be able to draw conclusions that we are on the verge of another expansion in one of our mineral production areas, what that will mean in a macro sense for the whole State and what that will mean regionally.”
Projects such as Metronet are unlikely to be a major feature of IWA’s strategy, which will take some time to prepare.
Mr Langoulant said Westport was one of the projects that would probably feature in the 20-year strategy.
“My expectations are once we start working across the Government, we’ll find a few of the other bigger projects,” he said.
Romilly Madew, chief executive of IWA’s national equivalent Infrastructure Australia, said she envisaged the organisations collaborating, with opportunities for them to be project partners.
Source: The West Australian, 11 July 2019