Managing Director’s Review
Transport plays an important role in the wellbeing of Western Australians and is a critical part of supporting our state and our people to achieve their full potential. It connects communities and businesses, helps the economy grow, keeps us safe, and creates liveable cities and thriving regions.
Our constant challenge is to ensure we plan for the long term and yet adapt to meet changing circumstances and the needs of our customers. This makes investment in the road network and efficient movement of freight crucial in delivering services that both benefit the community and respond to current and future levels of demand.
This year was no exception. Our state changed when, already feeling the impacts of bushfires and tropical cyclones, the COVID-19 crisis made its presence felt and a State of Emergency was declared in response to the pandemic.
Impacts from the COVID-19 crisis represent one of the biggest challenges to the global and domestic economy that any of us have ever experienced. Main Roads has had a unique role to play in supporting the Western Australian economy and its people through this period and into the future recovery phase.
Whilst none of us predicted or expected that we would be faced with such unusual circumstances, what this report demonstrates is that we managed to continue delivering our projects and services in line with the directions we have set under our Keeping WA Moving strategy.
Our Operational Performance
This year saw an investment of $1.8 billion through our six service areas as we continued to deliver safe, reliable and sustainable services to the community. We completed one of our biggest projects to date – NorthLink WA. This is a non-stop, freeway-standard highway between Morley and Muchea providing an efficient alternative freight route; NorthLink WA also takes about 80 per cent of trucks away from Great Northern Highway through the Swan Valley. The project supported around 7,000 jobs throughout construction. Peter has highlighted a number of other significant projects from across the state and throughout the Operational Performance section of the report.
Road safety continues to be a serious concern and we will begin to deliver the largest road safety improvement program ever seen in this state. In its first year, the program will see around 1,400 kilometres of roads treated as part of a package funded jointly by the State and Commonwealth Governments. The program is valued, for the first year alone, at $100 million.
We released our Aboriginal Engagement and Participation Policy in early 2020. This outlines our commitment to involve Aboriginal peoples in the works we do and to embrace their unique cultures and traditions. This financial year Aboriginal peoples and businesses have helped us develop and deliver our works with over $62 million spent with Aboriginal businesses and over 466,000 hours worked by Aboriginal peoples.
Our Business Activities
Our business and support services continue to focus on encouraging sustainable practices, improving customer experience and developing our people and their safety, health and wellbeing.
We are committed to protecting and enhancing the natural environmental and social values in all our activities, and a key area of focus for us is sustainability. It was pleasing to see that 90 per cent of the community are satisfied with our handling of environmental management and 89 per cent with our approaches to sustainability. During the year, we exceeded our target of doubling the usage of crumb rubber to 1,300 tonnes per annum by 2021, with almost 1,500 tonnes used this year in asphalt and spray sealing works.
As part of our work in planning for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road, the outcomes of an extensive regional survey on the Western Ringtail Possum provides an invaluable resource for environmental regulators, universities, researchers and environmental groups across Australia and the world. Our efforts have contributed to new data and work protecting the future of this endangered marsupial.
We believe in providing a transport network centred on what our customers need and value. This year, we focused on improving our customers’ digital experience as we delivered a new website providing better online tools and services. This is an important improvement for the nearly 6.1 million visits to our website each year.
I am proud that we have created a Regional Engineering Associate Traineeship Program to provide long-term technical resourcing, growth, flexibility and stability in our regions. We are a regionally based organisation operating and managing a state-wide road network so it is important for us to recruit people who live in the regions, to ensure we build a sustainable workforce as well as improving outcomes and opportunities for regional communities.
We are nothing without our people and it is extremely important to me to provide a culture and environment where everyone feels safe at work and returns home safely. We continue to help our people build their capacity and awareness in the Mental Wellness space. Our focus is to create a culture where risks are addressed and the provision of mental health support is readily available.
The next 12 months will be another big year for all of us as we will play a key role in our state’s strategy for recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. There will be an unprecedented level of investment in road construction designed to create more opportunities for local jobs, businesses and the economy. We will continue to deliver our works program aimed at improving reliability, efficiency and safety whilst contributing towards creating more jobs and business investment opportunities across the state.
This includes progressing road infrastructure such as construction of the Fremantle High Street upgrade, Thomas Road safety improvements between Kwinana Freeway and South Western Highway and completion of the Reid Highway Dual Carriageway.
Investment in our roads continues across regional WA through works including the Duncan and Gordon Downs Roads Project, upgrades on the South Coast Highway, progress on plans for the next stage of the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway upgrade and ongoing construction of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road and the Albany Ring Road.
While firmly focused on delivery, we also have an eye on emerging trends, future opportunities, changing needs of our customers and transformative technologies. We pride ourselves on seeking ways to overcome challenges and identify new opportunities by being agile and innovative.
This year has provided unprecedented and unique challenges for us all. I especially would like to acknowledge the leadership that Corporate Executive has given to Main Roads during this time and the personal support they have provided to me as we have worked through the COVID-19 issues.
I would also like to acknowledge the work and effort made by our people and contractors across the state. The widespread cooperation and support I have seen across the public and private sectors, the community, our industry partners and from each other is something we should all be very proud of.
Acting Managing Director of Main Roads