Global Opportunities

Booming infrastructure in Australia – opportunities for Swiss SMEs

The New South Wales (NSW) Government is delivering the biggest infrastructure program in Australian history with AUD 72.7 billion earmarked for projects over the next four years.

New road projects in Australia
New road projects in Australia

Growing more than 3% on average each year since 1992, Australia is the only major developed economy to have recorded no recession from 1917 to 1992 and is now in its 26th year of consecutive growth. This statistic, along with a forecast of AUD 72.7billion spending on infrastructure in the State of New South Wales (NSW) in South Eastern Australia over the next 4 years warrants closer examination. How can Swiss SMEs profit from this booming state, albeit located halfway across the world?

It is difficult to put a figure on how many Swiss companies, or companies with Swiss connections are already based in Australia, because there is no clear definition of the terminology in this regard; having said that, the large Swiss multinational companies are all present in Australia, as too are many smaller originally Swiss companies.  

The current population of Australia is 24.7 Million people.  In comparison, the State of NSW currently has 7 Million people and is forecast to grow to 10 Million in 2037, 12 Million in 2056. With population and economic growth come opportunities for direct investment, but also for participation in design, construction, management and operations of infrastructure projects, such as in the case of NSW. As an example, for planned road constructions the NSW Government has decided new technologies are required to address the increasing congestion on the Sydney metropolitan road network. Does your company offer solutions in smart transport i.e. traffic management systems, which you can export to Australia? Already there are Swiss SMEs involved in the Sydney Metropolitan Railexpansion projects. Does your company offer solutions in tunnelling or construction?  Are you an engineering procurement firm, which would like to work collaboratively with an Australian company to supply Swiss knowledge? Do you regularly participate in international tenders and want to participate in a new iconic architectural design for the New Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences on the banks for the Parramatta River in Sydney’s west? Opportunities exist; are you ready for the Australian market place?

Switzerland’s expertise can be invaluable in Australia

Almost two years ago, Switzerland achieved what many would have considered inconceivable 50 years ago: The 57.09km longest and deepest railway tunnel in the world, the Gotthard Base Tunnel. How was it achieved? The answer is many-fold and includes the will of the people and politics, but it also involves Swiss long-term planning, precision, masterful engineering and technological skills. This sort of Swiss expertise has long been an export of Switzerland and can certainly be useful in the booming infrastructure in the State of NSW. Let’s take a closer look at current projects:

The main areas of infrastructure growth
By 2056, Greater Sydney will be a metropolis of ‘three’ cities’ – an Eastern Harbour City, Central River City and Western Parkland City. To achieve this goal, better integration of land use and infrastructure is required, as well as improving digital connectivity and using innovative service delivery models.
The areas of growth are:

  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Health
  • Education
  • Justice
  • Culture, Sport & Tourism

The current project pipeline
The road current project pipeline includes:

Current works:

  • WestConnex new M4 Tunnel: Tunnelling, new surface connections
  • WestConnex new M5: Tunnelling, new surface connections
  • NorthConnex: Tunnelling, new surface connections, motorway integration

Planned works / future opportunities:

  • WestConnex M4M5 Link Mainland Tunnel and WestConnex M4-M5 Link Rozelle interchange: Tunnelling, new surface connections
  • Sydney Gateway: New and upgraded road works, including motorway, bridges, surface roads, ramps and the duplication of the freight rail line, including replacement of rail bridges/structures
  • F6 Extension Stage 1: Tunnelling, new surface connections, major surface road upgrades
  • Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches link: Tunnelling, new surface connections, major surface road upgrades, Sydney Harbour crossings

Tender processes and partnering with Australian companies

Since the 1980s, governments across Australia have produced critical and complex infrastructure projects via a Public Private Partnership (PPP). Initially centered on water and road projects, Governments now adopt PPPs to deliver infrastructure and services across a broad range of sectors.

Contractors wishing to tender for road and bridge construction contracts with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) must be prequalified under the National Prequalification Scheme. All Australian states and territories are participants in the National Prequalification Scheme. Contractors thus seek prequalification in the state, which they are tendering for, but can apply for mutual recognition with other jurisdictions. Smaller contractors are eligible to apply for prequalification for lower value and less complex roadwork and bridgework. They can also carry out subcontract work for a head contractor, or apply for prequalification in one or more of the Roads and Maritime specialist categories.

Other States in Australia are also investing heavily in infrastructure and just last month the State of Queenland (QLD) in North Eastern Australia released its four-year strategic plan. Programs like the Queensland Transport Roads and Investment Program 2018-19 to 2021-22 outlines $21.7 billion in transport and road infrastructure over the next four years.