The Budget and precast concrete

A chat with National Precast CEO Sarah Bachmann.Sarah Bachmann, National Precast CEO, talks about the Federal Budget and what it means for the Australian precast sector.

The Federal Budget allocated a significant spend to infrastructure. That must be positive for the construction industry?

It’s always welcome when a Budget is handed down and it includes substantial spend on infrastructure. In this Budget, there’s a commitment to $75 billion in infrastructure funding and financing over the next decade. There are some exciting projects that have been earmarked.

There’s an upgrade to Queensland’s Bruce Highway, better road access for Perth’s Fiona Stanley Hospital Precinct and regional rail projects in Victoria. There are also plans to set up a new Infrastructure and Projects Financing Agency to decide exactly where and how the money is spent.

Such significant infrastructure ambitions are welcome, so long as they are done right. That means good projects that are well managed and delivered.

What role could precast concrete play in these projects?

Precast concrete should play a leading role in this infrastructure spend. This is a great opportunity to build roads and rail networks utilising the benefits of precast. Not only is precast concrete long lasting, strong and durable, it’s also versatile and requires minimal maintenance. It’s a great long term investment that delivers over many generations and it really isn’t surpassed by any other product.

How is it placed from a sustainability and, in particular, an environmental perspective?

While sustainability is about more than just about environment, precast concrete does has important environmental benefits as well. The manufacturing process means that waste and recycled products can be incorporated into the mix, moulds are reused, there is minimal waste and it actually absorbs CO2 over its life. Off-site manufacture also means less disruption during construction and high quality because of the controlled factory environment for manufacture. And it doesn’t emit any chemicals, nor require chemical treatment.

What would these infrastructure projects mean for jobs?

All levels of government need to support our manufacturing sector by ensuring Australian companies are procured for these important projects, right down the construction supply chain. That not only protects jobs but will likely create jobs as well.

If the Government’s goal is to increase economic growth, that’s a good start. To ensure the work is done properly, procurement authorities need to minimise risk and to do that, must choose contractors wisely. When it comes to precast concrete, we strongly recommend using members of National Precast.

As the peak body for the precast industry in Australia, our members lead the industry. They are professionals with experience and a proved track record, and are vetted in a number of different areas prior to being admitted as members. Quality, safety, expertise, environmental compliance, manufacturing facilities and financial stability are all checked. And our members are all kept up to date with the latest manufacturing techniques, standards and codes.

That surely has to give the procurement professionals some peace of mind. In fact, I’d be asking precasters who are proclaiming to be good at what they do why they are not members and making the investment in their national industry body.

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