Consult Australia releases an industry guideline to promote its ‘model client’ policy

18 June 2018

Consult Australia has released an industry policy guideline which it hopes will encourage government to act honestly when dealing with private sector contractors. 

The policy, titled ‘Model Client Policy; Proposals for all government jurisdictions’, was released earlier this month by Consult Australia. It contains 12 core principles which individually and together will ensure that government bodies at local, state and federal levels behave in a fair and ethical manner.  

Consult Australia is a highly-regarded industry association for consulting firms in the natural and built environment. They work with a number of Australia’s largest consulting, architecture and engineering firms to advocate for best policy and practice in the industry. Consult Australia aim to act as a centralised voice for the industry whilst driving success for its member firms. 

The ‘model client’ policy demonstrates a shift in how the Australian government can interact with private contractors. Asking the public sector to show leadership by behaving ethically and fairly when dealing with suppliers, the association asks the government to ‘lead by example’.  

The aim of the policy is to ensure that both the contractor and the contractee mutually benefit from the outcomes and that neither use their market power to influence the contract itself. “Being a ‘model client’ means working collaboratively with industry on projects, and achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. It formalises governments’ intent to do things better by putting clear obligations in place,” states the policy document.

This is said to be done through 12 principals which include: Recognising the role of each party, planning and prioritisation of projects, appropriate risk allocation, fairness in contracting, accessbility and affordability of professional indemnity insurance, adopton of standard contracts, adoption of proportionate liability, quality of documentation, supporting innovation, reducing the cost of bidding for work, better decision making, and addressing the underlying causes.

Consult Australia releases an industry guideline to promote its ‘model client’ policy

By adopting the model into policy, the advisory believes that this will make the public sector a more attractive client for the private sector to engage with. They advocate that adopting the ‘model client’ policy will create business confidence in the consulting sector and achieve a higher grade of quality tenders and minimalise workplace disputes. 

“We hear a lot about industry muscle, but the government has muscle too, through its size, stability and tremendous purchasing power. This is particularly true at the moment, as many governments are investing heavily in infrastructure. Yet with great power comes great responsibility, and [our] governments need to lead by example,” said Consult Australia’s Chief Executive, Megan Motto.

To become a model client the government should foster a culture of collaboration between the public and private sector. This includes simplifying and standardising contracting, limiting liability and inappropriate risk allocation, maintaining dialogue between both parties, properly planning projects, and settling invoices on time. By providing a positive management and strategy framework, the government can create an environment of continuous improvement and innovation.

“It is more important than ever that government and industry work collaboratively together. If not, it can have a devastating impact, particularly on small firms, leading to cashflow issues or simply some of our best and brightest have little choice but to walk away from work they could be doing to make our cities better,” Motto said.

According to the advisory, the government is under increasingly difficult time and budget constraints which are significantly affecting government in terms of efficiency and productivity. By adopting Consult Australia’s policy, the government can ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively. “If governments adopt the Model Client Policy, then ultimately it will be the taxpayer who benefits through the quantity and quality of response to tenders,” concluded Motto.

Related: Consult Australia’s VIC: Digital Built Australia event kicks off 30th of May.

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Is Sydney on a set path for a third CBD in Liverpool?

08 November 2018

Australia’s largest city is at a critical moment of maturity and is expected to grow to over eight million inhabitants by 2050. To manage this exponential growth, PwC’s Jeremy Thorpe argues that it is not enough to sit back and enjoy the ride, but to actively pursue a third CBD in Greater Western Sydney.

Liverpool is one of the oldest inhabited regions in Australia and was named after the Earl of Liverpool who was then the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Located 40kms east of Sydney’s traditional CBD, the area may not be the first thought for a new high-density urban precinct. However two major developments have driven the concept of having a third business district in the city.

Currently, construction of Western Sydney Airport is under away and is expected to bring with it a number of jobs to the region. The development is happening 20kms further west of Liverpool and is expected to be operational by 2026 in order to service the growing Western population. According to Western Sydney University, the population of Greater Western Sydney will grow to over 3 million by 2036. It currently stands at 1.9 million. 

“Government investment is critical, but the Western Sydney Airport will likely be the longer term catalyst if Liverpool is to evolve as a new CBD. This may be a combination of: new firms attracted because of the new investment opportunities looking for Western Sydney headquarters; and firms reliant on the airport for their business model.”

Parramatta, the second Sydney CBD is already exploding as a new urban hub for the city, is “underpinned, so far, by government infrastructure investment and the movement of NSW government agencies from the CBD. These have proved to be catalysts for additional private investment and a shift to the delivery of higher value services,” said Jeremy Thorpe, Partner in PwC Australia’s National Economics & Policy Consulting team.

Is Sydney on a set path for a third CBD in Liverpool?

Thorpe notes that many cities, especially in Australia retain a monocentric form. “This model, of which Greater Sydney has been an example, offers advantages of agglomeration, high business density and vibrancy. However, the monocentric model also gives rise to negative externalities - the diseconomies of agglomeration in terms of high commercial rents, costs of living/housing, costs of labour, and congestion.”

He believes that it is possible to identify best practice from a number of Asian cities internationally.  Taking Singapore and Seoul as examples, Thorpe highlights the two high density metropolises ability to maintain multiple sub-centres. Seoul is currently building two new CBDs both between 12-15km from the historic CBD.

The PwC Partner also notions London’s Canary Wharf, as proof that success for a second CBD is possible, but may require more than one investment cycle. “In these cases the second CBD came to fruition 20-25 years after initial planning,” he said. “Most successful second CBD developments have utilised a range of demand-side drivers, used planning tools effectively, and accessed a wide range of other public policy tools in order to shape and promote the district.”

He suggests that it is time for the State and Commonwealth Governments to also view Liverpool in a similar way and provide the catalytic investment that moves the CBD further into professional services. “This is not a tomorrow issue. Making the most of Liverpool now is clearly the initial agenda. But it would be a shame if at least one eye is not focusing 30 or so years out so that Liverpool can take advantage of the amazing opportunities before it to evolve to be Sydney’s third CBD and the CBD of the Western Parkland City.” Thorpe concludes with a warning. “Great places don’t just happen by chance.”