CCNZ update Comment

Comparing apples and contracting

Alan Pollard

Alan Pollard, Chief Executive, Civil Contractors New Zealand

As I write this column, I have been on the job at Civil Contractors New Zealand for one month, to the day.

At present, I am doing a lot of reading and meeting with people to build my understanding of how best to support your businesses, I’m connecting with other industry associations who support our advocacy work, and I’m brushing up on the diverse history of CCNZ as the national association for civil and general contracting.
While I don’t have direct experience with construction, I do have experience managing industry associations, having represented the interests of apple and pear growers over the course of a decade for their national association New Zealand Apples and Pears.
While there is a lot for me to learn, I can see from my brief time here that there are many similarities in the challenges and opportunities the industry faces. And it is equally important the industry has a strong shared voice to represent its needs.
While there has been change in the leadership of the association, the whole CCNZ team remains in place to represent your interests and ensure the voice of the civil construction industry is heard by decision makers. And already, I am working with our national and regional teams to make submissions on issues that affect contractors.
So why have I chosen to represent this industry, you might ask? The answer is that I think the infrastructure construction industry has a huge role to play in shaping the future of this country. And I also think we have an opportunity for the country to make great progress if we can get the policy settings around infrastructure construction right.
It’s already very apparent to me that a steady flow of work, the relationship between clients and contractors and generating a skilled workforce are all of critical importance. I recognise CCNZ’s role in these discussions, and the importance of understanding the needs of contractors before we inform decision makers on the best course of action. We will continue to lead the charge providing informed and proactive feedback on the big issues.

The benefits of well-constructed and maintained transport networks are clear, but there are reports the industry is seeing significant cost escalation at a time when we need to increase investment to catch up with years of under-investment.

One of the first consultations we’re looking at is a proposed review of Road User Charges that will directly impact how NZ’s transport networks are funded. The road user charges system is ripe for a change and must be fit to fund our transport networks for decades to come. But understanding the impacts on the industry is important and we will be consulting with members before having our say.
I think there will be broad agreement that it’s time for an overhaul as more and more activities are added to the National Land Transport Programme, which is funded by RUCs, but we will need to make the case for how it can better meet the needs of the contractors that work on our transport networks in a way that relates to the transport needs of the public.
The benefits of well-constructed and maintained transport networks are clear, but there are reports the industry is seeing significant cost escalation at a time when we need to increase investment to catch up with years of under-investment.
There’s also the issue of getting value when there is increased cost. Contractors pay road user charges too, and they need to see value for money for this investment, as well as making sure the funding pot is big enough. If you’d like to inform our submission, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly at Alan@civilcontractors.co.nz.
The review of standard 3910 contracts is progressing, and, with hot topics like three waters reforms and pandemic health and safety restrictions, there are many other issues high on our priority list.
These include immigration and developing a reliable and capable workforce within New Zealand. We need to have access to the right skills, equipment and materials when we need them, in an environment where costs are not uncontrollably escalating. These are all major focus areas in which I have experience.
We will have plenty of time to go into more detail in future columns, but for now I’m happy to say I’m excited at the opportunity to represent such a great industry. I look forward to connecting with you personally as soon as is practical and possible, and I encourage you to get in touch if there is an industry issue or opportunity you would like CCNZ to address.

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