Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says construction — which continues under current stage three restrictions — will play a major role in the state’s economic recovery post COVID-19.
“It’s probably too early to tell what the impacts of this coronavirus will be on a whole range of different projects: both government projects — level crossings, road and rail hospitals, schools — and also private sector projects,” Mr. Andrews told ABC political reporter Richard Willingham.
“When we get to the other side of this, the biggest construction boom in our state’s history will need to be even bigger. We will need to do more to protect jobs, to create new jobs, and to make sure that we bounce back from this as strong as we possibly can.”
According to Mr. Andrews, the state budget, which was due 5 May but has been postponed until later this year, will give the state government an opportunity to assess where the greatest needs are.
“There will be a massive rebuilding project, a big project to stand with workers and their families to look after the most disadvantaged, to repair that damage as much as we can,” he said.
Mr. Andrews comments follow similar statements from Federal Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack, who highlighted the role vital infrastructure projects play in maintaining the long-term economic health of regional communities.
“We’re powering ahead with vital infrastructure projects because we understand just how important investments are to regional economies in this difficult time,” he said.
The Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA) has also confirmed, through discussions with government bodies across Australia, that roads and associated roadworks are essential services.
AAPA CEO Carlos Rial said it can be interpreted, under many of the country’s Essential Services Acts, that roads and associated roadworks activities support the essential functions needed during emergent conditions.
Mr. Rial noted that roads are the nations arteries, providing an essential service to support the following:
- The needed freight that supplies business and consumers in critical times.
- The need for safe access for emergency services, remote and vulnerable communities as well as the mines, ports and farms that keep the economy functioning.
- The need to keep people employed as roadworks provide a positive impact of additional employment for both skilled and semi skilled workers in both regional and metropolitan areas.
- The need for well maintained roads to help protect the lives of those using them.