The discussion for 2019

In January we will send out the 2019 edition of Contractor Perspectives, our annual publication made up of commentary written by industry peers from government level to those associations representing every sector involved in making civil contracting in this country a success. By managing editor ALAN TITCHALL

As they have done for the past five editions, our contributors look back on the past year (2018) and look forward into this year, to take a broad look at the ‘state of play’ in their specific sectors. Over the years we have built up benchmark commentary on our contracting industry.

Worksafe has keenly contributed to each edition with the exception of this one. It says it is currently not resourced to write a 2019 perspective. Read into that what you will, but after issuing at least three ‘enforceable undertakings’ to three major companies involved with civil contracting last year, I would have thought the agency’s  management would be very keen to talk to you about worksite safety?

Meanwhile, our contributors have provided a rich insight into their respective industry sectors, starting with the Minister of Transport and the NZTA. Both recognise our industry as an essential partner. As the Transport Minister says; “The Government is investing heavily in new infrastructure over the next decade and we are committed to working with industry to upskill the sector and deliver innovative infrastructure.”

While the NZTA says;  “The close relationship the Transport Agency enjoys with the contracting industry gives us a solid foundation to successfully manage the future.”

The rest of our content is made up of strong messages to the Government from various industry sectors charged with the design and build of our nation’s new infrastructure, and cleaning up after natural and man-made disasters.

Some commentary is very critical of the current situation in terms of the Government project work stream.

As the CCNZ notes: Reviews, funding, financing and planning approvals are a greater problem than ever before. Major projects have no projected start dates.

“The gap in the pipeline seems to have morphed into a blockage as we wait for the outcomes of reviews, and for local government to bring its increased budget to the construction market,” says CCNZ chief Peter Silcock.

“Major investments in regional and safety improvements also seem to be slow in emerging. The forward work plan is staying just over the horizon, and it seems that most of the major facets of our work are eternally ‘under review’ or in the planning stage. It is frustrating, and I am already anticipating a larger than usual April to June end of year work rush!”

And, as the AQA points out, the coalition Government’s ambitious infrastructure plans rely on a continuity of supply from existing quarries and security of supply from future quarries.

We provided extra space for the legal perspective, which is written by Kensington Swan. Its authors say the 2017 year was notable for its lack of significant events, while “the 2018 year was the exact opposite”. And was a year rocked by several high-profile insolvencies, the first test of the new retentions regime under the Construction Contracts Act 2002 (CCA), KiwiBuild launching into action, and interesting moves in the infrastructure space.

Economist Dr Ganesh Nana reflects on a year of contrasts – highs, such as remarkable employment numbers and recovering dairy exports, stacked against plummeting business confidence, angst about cessation of oil and gas exploration, and proposed employment legislation, snowballing public sector wage pressures, and a deteriorating external deficit and external debt position.

For this year he warns; “Unfortunately, there will be no shortage of ill-winds from offshore to blow us off course. The temptation to remain within our business-as-usual comfort zone will be as large as ever.

“Assessing whether short-term factors outweigh strategic and longer-term considerations will again test the mettle of our governance bodies.”

Other sector perspectives provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of civil contracting in our nation, and raise many points and questions, both positive and negative.


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