3 Priorities for the Building and Construction Industry in 2016

4 February 2016

James Cameron, Executive Director, Australian Construction Industry Forumby James Cameron New year is always a good time to set goals. For Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF), the bloom of new year is even more so as I begin as Executive Director, after waving off Peter Barda to the many joys of retirement amongst his wine vines.

The challenges ahead for the industry are significant, as are the opportunities. For ACIF, an important point to ponder is where to focus our energies for 2016, leveraging the significant contributions to the industry under Peter’s leadership.

Our first priority is making sure that the right people understand the key needs of this industry, which employs 1.1 million people. However, we build the homes, workplaces, hospitals, schools and public spaces for all 23 million Australians. As an industry, we have strong ideas on what needs to happen to make this better.

So in 2016, engaging with Federal politicians and regulators will be our first priority. ACIF Members have collaborated to develop a set of policies that address the industry’s key needs and approaches, across:

  • Housing Affordability
  • Design and Construction for a Sustainable Industry
  • Government Economic Management – Regulation
  • Occupational Licensing
  • Procurement
  • Workforce Development and Relations
  • Workplace Health and Safety

With my years of experience managing policy and advocacy, and my determination to make a difference for ACIF, communicating these policies will be my first priority. 

Secondly, it is my conviction that just as the Wallabies, Australian cricket team and Australian netball team all strive to be number one in the world, so to the Australian construction industry should strive to be ranked first in the world in a range of indicators.  Let’s play hard, play as a team, and play to win. 

ACIF and its key government partner, Australasian Procurement and Construction Council, have jointly produced a series of resources to improve how we work, to make it safer, more fulfilling, more cost effective (so more clients will start projects) but more importantly produce a better built environment for all Australians.

The built environment plays such an enormous role in our physical and mental health and wellbeing.  Buildings and infrastructure are essential for families, businesses, government, and organisations of all types.  Buildings and infrastructure left to us from previous generations are a key component of our civilisation.  In Cordoba in Spain, they are still using a bridge first built by the Romans over 2000 years ago!

Thirdly, making sure that this industry has the right intelligence with which to drive its decision making. We need to have an evidence base for what has happened, and a reliable set of data and information on what is coming. The ACIF Forecasts are part of this, but where are the gaps – where else do we need better, clearer, more specific information that can inform the big strategic questions of the industry, as well as the small, more localised ones for individual businesses? When we are forewarned we can be forearmed, as the saying goes, which means ready to handle the ebbs and flows that come from being a big, important part of a dynamic domestic and international economy.

We can do it, together. We have much to be proud of in the Australian construction industry, but let’s keep the ideas flowing to continually make things better. ACIF is a collaborative organisation, the meeting place for the leaders across the building and construction industry to learn about each other but also to find commonality so we can work together on issues and opportunities that affect us all. We welcome your input too, so if you have any ideas on how the industry can be improved, please do get in touch at ceo@acif.com.au. I look forward to hearing from you.