- State at a standstill as major projects dry up
- 'Victoria is pretty cactus'
- COMMENT: Risking our reputation
Premier Ted Baillieu has moved to hose down claims the state's major construction and projects sector is under the pump, listing a long list of infrastructure projects his government was investing in.
We have a program, we have an investment and not only that, we are being responsible about it.
The Premier also took aim at Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Workplace Minister Bill Shorten and unions for standing in the way of a national inquiry into costs in the construction industry.
Winding up ... M80 is a $2.25 billion project, jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments. About 1300 people worked directly on the site, with others working off site in design and planning. As it nears completion it employs about 50 workers on site. Photo: Ken Irwin
Fairfax Media on Tuesday reported that Victoria was coming to a standstill with more than 12,000 construction jobs lost and thousands more at risk as big infrastructure jobs such as the desalination plant finish and the pipeline of major building projects dries up.
Major companies expect to shed thousands more jobs in the next few months as the building industry grinds to a halt, with the Regional Rail Link the only major infrastructure project continuing this
Speaking at the launch of the Melbourne Grand Prix on Tuesday morning, Mr Baillieu said the outlook in Victoria was positive and that his government had an emphasis on doing projects responsibly.
"We have a program, we have an investment and not only that, we are being responsible about it," Mr Baillieu said.
"The ratings agencies say Victoria has the most positive outlook."
He said government investments included expansion of the Port of Melbourne, Kooweerup bypass, level-crossing and grade separations, Monash Children's Hospital and Bendigo Hospital.
Asked what his message was to the thousands of people who were out of work in the industry, Mr Baillieu replied: "It's important that we have a construction industry that is competitive, and as you know we have been seeking to ensure there is an inquiry into construction costs in this country."
The Council of Australian Governments last year agreed to hold the inquiry but it is yet to begin.
"It's only Julia Gillard and the unions that have stood in the way of that inquiry. And we need to get a better handle on construction costs so we don't price ourselves out of infrastructure in the future,'' he said.
He referred to his government's tough rules, that restrict union activity, which affect major project contracts.
‘‘We need to be more productive and that’s why we have sought to have construction industry guidelines in this state so that we don’t have unlawful behaviour on construction sites - which just escalates the cost of construction - and who stood in the way of that Bill Shorten and Julia Gillard.
"We have a focus on productivity, we have a focus on responsible investment and we have a focus on growth in this state."