Australian Construction Focus - December Edition

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December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Editor’s Pick


s 2010 draws to a close, so does our seventh issue of Australian Construction Focus, and what a year it has been! Since June, we have brought our readers news and features on many sectors of the nation’s everexpanding construction industry, from profiles on specialists in luxury new home construction in trendy urban areas to modular home construction in rural lands, high-end fit-outs for retail giants and shopping centres to earthmovers readying the land for infrastructure in underdeveloped areas. All companies may have different specialties – from ‘green’ home-builders to artisans restoring historic buildings from the past – but they all share one goal in common: to make Australia a better place to live for its current residents, and a welcoming place for future generations.

In Australia, the demand for housing is unprecedented. Over the next 25 years, New South Wales alone estimates welcoming another 2.3 million additional residents. Addressing the issue is The Honourable Tony Kelly, Minister for Planning, Minister for Infrastructure, and Minister for Lands. This month, we profile the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Canberra. Once completed, the massive complex will be a unique environmentally sustainable, state of the art biomedical research institute, and home to researchers investigating the causes of diseases like HIV/AIDS and diabetes. In this issue’s green feature From Cancun to Can-Do, we discuss the controversial scheme of pricing carbon emissions, and the potential benefits to be gained by the construction industry through energy provision, infrastructure, and redesign and retrofit.

In past issues, we have featured stories on Australia’s population expansion, bringing our readers interviews with industry experts addressing the nation’s growing housing crunch. Soon, Australia’s population will reach 22 million, a figure not unnoticed by politicians like The Honourable Tony Kelly. In New South Wales, Mr Kelly serves three areas: he is Minister for Planning, Minister for Infrastructure, and Minister for Lands. The ministries may be different, but they are united in their goal for the nation’s future expansion. In New South Wales alone, there will be another 2.3 million additional residents over the next 25 years, and the need for a staggering 770,000 extra new housing units. It is an issue that you will be sure to read more about in the coming year. In recent months, we have also featured a number of articles about another one of Australia’s key constructions sectors, the mining industry. Just as mining is vital to the nation’s economy, so are the many hard-working firms doing much of the construction work to prepare mine sites, build dams, and construct buildings to house and feed workers. In other countries, what began as a year of triumph for miners sadly ended as a year of tragedy close to home. Just a few months ago, 33 Chilean miners were trapped, and successfully rescued, from certain death in what became one of the most uplifting stories of the year. In contrast, just a few weeks ago in New Zealand, 29 miners and contractors made headlines when the coal mine they were working in at Pike River suffered an explosion. Hopes for their safety were dashed days later, when a second blast eliminated any possibility of survivors. It will remain a tremendous loss to their families, their friends, and New Zealand’s mining community for years to come. The timing is prophetic, as Focus Media Group Pty Ltd – the publisher of Australian Construction Focus – is about to embark on its newest magazine, Australian Resource Focus, at We dedicate the first issue of Australian Resource Focus to the memories of the 29 miners who perished, and their families. It is our sincerest wish that their deaths need not be in vain, and that the mining sector never again experiences such a catastrophic waste of life. Our wishes to all for a happy, safe, and successful New Year. See you in 2011.

Robert J. Hoshowsky Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Robert Hoshowsky Managing Editor


Kulvir Singh Creative Art Director Robert Chambers Director of Business Dev. Lorne Moffat Head of Research Rob Lenehan Research Manager Tim Hocken Production Editor

The Hon. Tony Kelly

Christian Cooper Director of Operations Contributing Writers Aleisha Parr Jaime McKee Jen Hamilton John Boley Lynn Hamilton Melissa Thompson Jeff Hocken Publisher 8th Floor, 55 Hunter St Sydney NSW 2000 GPO Box 4836, Sydney NSW 2001 Phone: 02 8412 8119 ABN 93 143 238 126

06 News and Events

Management From The Ground Up

12 GFR Group

Making the Case For Growth

22 From Cancun to Can-D

Curbing Emissions could be good

28 Dura Constructions

Conservatism and Communication

34 Quasar Constructions

Something Different

42 Landmark

John Curtin School of Medical Research

48 Wood & Grieve

A Company Culture 50 Years Strong

56 Sense Projects


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Making Sense of Construction Manageme

42 48

John Curtin School of Medical Research

Wood & Grieve

64 The Hon. Tony Kelly

Addressing NSW’s Housing Needs


68 Matrix

Holistic Success

Do 74 Global Contracting

Doing it Right

Matrix 22

ent Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Country Living, for Next to Nothing


ith a population of just 380 residents, the Australian hamlet of Trundle rarely makes the news. That all changed recently when the rural community – in an effort to encourage new families to move in and reinvigorate the area – offered newcomers an incentive that simply could not be refused: renting farm houses for a mere dollar per week. Located 350 km northwest of Sydney, Trundle’s radical rent offer made headlines in Australia and around the world. The “Trundle Tree Change” plan is working. To date, over 250 people have put in applications from across Australia, and places as far away as Canada and Turkey, to occupy one of the seven available farm houses. Like other neighbouring communities, Trundle


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

has battled drought over the years, and hopes the astonishingly low rent will rejuvenate the population and bring renewed life to the area. For newcomers seeking to take advantage of this one in a lifetime opportunity, there are some conditions. There is an application process involved. Potential residents must be employed, with young families, have a willingness to be active in the local community, and unafraid of minor renovation work. “Are you handy with a paint brush and hammer? Keen to experience rural living?” asks the website If you want to experience country living for next to nothing, and help invigorate an entire community, Trundle might be the place for you.

Asbestos Still a Danger


n Tasmania, about 15 people die from asbestos-related diseases each year. For a group of Tasmanian unions, that’s 15 too many. Recently, Asbestos Awareness Week was launched to inform renovators about the health risks surrounding exposure to asbestos. In Tasmania, the Building and Construction Industry Group of Unions would like to see all asbestos safely removed from buildings prior to construction work taking place, and wants warnings about asbestos on building and demolition sites upgraded. Old asbestos can appear virtually anywhere in a building, from vinyl floor coverings to ceilings, and can be loosened or dislodged through drilling, cutting, and other means.

At present, there are three danger categories regarding asbestos – green, amber, and red – with red being the highest, indicating materials that are dangerous or pose an immediate health risk. While working around the material, the danger level can jump from green or amber to red, with workers often unaware of the mounting danger. One of the dangers of asbestos is Asbestosis, a serious, long-term respiratory disease that permanently scars the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. The disease is caused by breathing in tiny fibres of asbestos, and one of the groups at greatest risk of contracting Asbestosis are contractors in the process of renovating old buildings. Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Longest Cycle Trail on track

n Western Australia, construction is underway on the great southern section of the Munda Biddi Cycle Trail.


“must-do” list for locals and visiting cycling enthusiasts, as it makes its way through an array of tiny country towns and national parks.

Aboriginal for “Path through the Forest,” the Munda Biddi, once completed, will be WA’s longest offroad cycle trail. Running from Mundaring in Perth, to Nannup in the south-west, the trail will eventually span over 1,000 kilometres as it winds its way to Elleker near Albany. The trail is already on the

All across the globe, cycling remains a popular sport, and project coordinators say the trail will benefit the tourism industry and many local businesses in the region. Crews working on the trail include a Department of Environment and Conservation construction team, along with a prison work crew.


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


Criminals Beware

tarting this January, the Tenterfield police station will receive a much-needed boost when renovation work on the station gets underway. The New South Wales Government has committed to spending just over half a million dollars to renovate the station, which includes new office space, a charge room, and bringing the building up to modern standards. The upgrades – scheduled for completion by May of 2011 – came at an ideal time, as the station recently held a meeting to address an increase in criminal activity like break-ins and vandalism in the area, which has required the deployment of additional police officers.

Melbourne Now Least Affordable Capital


ccording to recent figures from the Housing Industry Association, Melbourne has overtaken Sydney as the nation’s least affordable capital city.

Although the Housing Industry Association - Commonwealth Bank Housing Affordability Index rose 3.6 per cent in the September quarter, the index is still down 18.3 per cent over the past year, primarily due to half a dozen official interest rate rises by the Reserve Bank. The result for consumers? Houses that became more affordable in the three months to September, but still more expensive than they were a year ago, due to interest rate increases. Today, Melbourne’s affordability index is 50.8 versus 51.5 in Sydney. In Sydney, homes remain slightly more affordable for a number of reasons, such as higher average incomes. According to economists at HIA, affordability is likely to worsen in the current quarter, and is likely to keep deteriorating next year. At present, Tasmania remains the most affordable state to own a home.

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


-By John Boley


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


estern Australia-based GFR Group is among Australia’s most experienced and longest established PVC piping, PE and PE piping systems specialists and a manufacturer of superior performance valves. Now into its third decade of operations, GFR would like to be regarded as a more horizontal source of integrated supply, and business development manager Evan Tweedie is always looking for new partners and new opportunities. “I’m probably sales manager as well as business development. I suppose a few years ago we would have still regarded ourselves pretty much as a piping contractor, but then we gradually added other services as we went. So we now have tanks on our product list, they integrate into the pipework we do.” GFR today is more than 100 people strong and “we don’t make pipes. We are a piping engineering contractor, but it’s wider than piping, it’s really water management... we also call it fluids engineering.” The company is hoping to widen its experience in water treatment, having now gotten a number of technolAustralian Construction Focus | December 2010


ogy partners on board that can supply related expertise in waste water treatment, fresh water treatment and power generation – “because often these remote water treatment projects need power and a power plant that goes with them as well.” GFR’s biggest revenue stream is water management, including a large amount of dewatering. “We typically put in pipes and pumps, tanks and dams to contain or relocate or recycle that water – which may be used for dust suppression,


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

or it goes to camps or other facilities and needs treatment or cleaning to make it into potable water. We can do the whole of water management from the ground up, if a client wants us to, predominantly working within the resources industry and within that, predominantly iron ore,” although the company welcomes contracts in other sectors too. Once, says Mr Tweedie, it was ‘you give us a pipeline you want and we will install it’. Nowadays, GFR is well equipped to build and install its

own specialised tanks, dams, various types of piping materials, desalination and waste water treatment systems, and reverse osmosis filtration systems. “We don’t make pumps ourselves but we generally engineer the pumps, valves etc. the customer needs. I like to regard it as a turnkey fluids management service.” While much of the business concerns water, GFR also handles slurries, chemical solutions and many other fluids. Most of GFR’s business is in WA, NT and SA,

with a regional office in Melbourne looking at national opportunities. “For example,” says Mr Tweedie, “we are currently looking closely at the gas market in Queensland where there are huge opportunities. We regard ourselves as capable of being national – the whole of Australia is our market, but we operate from the western half.” GFR stands for Gold Fields Reticulation – reticulation for heap-leaching gold, involving pumping leaching solutions up over a pile of dirt and col-

“We genuinely care about our customers, we want to genuinely give value for money. These are old-fashioned values that certainly mean a lot to this company.”

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


lecting it at the bottom again, “hopefully washing the precious metal out of the heap on the way through.” This is an expertise developed by GFR’s current technical director. “He started on his own in his garage in Kalgoorlie. This is where we get our fundamental expertise in polyethylene, which is where it started.”

can share its expertise and act in an advisory capacity. “We have a close relationship with an engineering design house – a long standing arrangement. We would love to be more involved earlier.” However, “we need to be aware we are not a free design service – don’t ask us for free advice – and we are not, yet, a design house.”

Much of GFR Group’s business comes from responding to tenders but Mr Tweedie believes there is plenty of scope for the company to be included at earlier stages of a project so it

Nevertheless, GFR is “not as niche-y as we were. We strictly saw ourselves as being polyethylene people before and that’s certainly where our expertise lies, 25 years of experience, learning


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

all the right and wrong ways, falling into the traps, skinning our knees and learning, we are experts at that stuff. The direction we are going is we need to be experts at that plus we need to add some other things as well – hence the broadening of the scope of the projects that we are talking about.” One major project of which the company is proud is the installation of the Minara resources Grey Mare Bore Field water pipeline and infrastructure, which at more than 150km is the longest large-bore plastic pipeline ever undertaken for mining operations in WA and involved stringing of more than 6,000 tonnes of pipe, butt-fusion welded together. Mr Tweedie says the markets for polyethylene and steel pipes have for many years been quite

distinct and separate applications, but “those boundaries are starting to get blurred now with advances in plastic and in steels as well as changes in pricing and in the way people think about that.” So GFR is careful not to simply call itself a polyethylene pipe engineering or contracting company “because that’s a bit limiting now.” GFR is a pipe expert that can install water management systems “and if the right material for the job happens to be a steel pipe, or a ductile iron pipe, then we will put that in for the customer.” So what does the future hold for GFR Group? “Bigger things and more diverse things, more turnkey,” says Mr Tweedie. GFR is keen to be working on ten million dollar projects rather than three million. “I see ourselves making that kind of step up, and it would also be great if we

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

could be involved earlier – we are striving to do that.” He stresses GFR’s “exceptionally good safety record. We are genuinely very safety-conscious – everybody says that in our mining industry here ad nauseum, but we do take our people’s welfare very seriously.” Mr Tweedie also points to another feature of GFR Group: “We still have that ‘the man who owns the store runs the store’ feel about the business. It’s very open-door, with a very flat structure, so

anyone can talk to the managing director if they want to. We have still got that small-to-medium size ‘feel’ that we will strive to keep. I don’t know how successful we will be as we grow, but I think that’s one of the things that makes us different. I guess we genuinely care about our customers, we want to genuinely give value for money. These are old-fashioned values that certainly mean a lot to this company. People enjoy working here and we are all genuinely concerned about the way that our customers think about us.”

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


nvironmentally, 2011 is shaping to be an interesting year – in the sense of the ancient Confucian curse, “may you live in interesting times”. Though the noise of the Cancun Climate Change Summit has been muted compared to 2009’s Copenhagen shindig, delegates will have made a renewed effort to agree on funds and approaches to preserve rainforests and prepare for a hotter world, and to formalise existing targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Prime Minister Julia Gillard declared in November that Australia’s government will hammer out an agreement in 2011 on pricing carbon, accelerating Canberra’s climate change fight. She says the government will bring forward by a year its decision on how to price carbon emissions, though so far she has not clarified whether a previous 2013 date for implementation of any scheme would stay in place. It’s evident that the energy that the construction industry uses, and the energy used by the occupants of buildings it constructs, is likely to become sharply more expensive if carbon pricing makes it into law so the watchword will, more than ever, be ‘efficiency’. That’s why the federal government has established two climate change policy advisory groups – one for business and the other for non-government organisations. The business round table comprises

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Belgian Windfarm Construction Site

19 leaders, jointly run by climate change minister Greg Combet and deputy prime minister Wayne Swan, and will meet once a month until the end of 2011, by which time, aiding Labor, there will be a re-cast upper house Senate expected to be dominated by Greens sympathetic to action on emissions. But instead of a curse, this new likely focus on cleaning up could become a blessing, an op-


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

portunity rather than a problem, for the construction industry which – perhaps surprisingly – counts as a modest polluter, employing nearly 10 percent of Australia’s labour force but responsible for just 0.4 percent of total industrial carbon emissions (albeit ten times as much particulate emissions) in a country rated as one of the highest polluters in the world per capita. Here are just three examples of how the construction industry might benefit:

ENERGY PROVISION Building wind farms, solar thermal facilities and factories to manufacture the equipment. BHP Billiton is one major player warning that lack of a price on carbon is discouraging investment in renewable and clean-energy sources to replace ageing coal-fired power stations. In one independent report on sustainable stationary energy, from ZCA (Zero Carbon Australia) 2020, a plan is outlined to replace existing sources with renewable energy production in an ambitious one decade. “From 2010 to 2020, the …. Plan will create just over 80,000 jobs from installation of renewable energy infrastructure at the peak of construction, plus over 45,000 continuing jobs in operations and maintenance, which will continue for the life of the plant. “These jobs will be in a diverse range of fields including, but not restricted to, construction, manufacturing, engineering, trades and plant management. Over 30,000 jobs would also be created in manufacturing of wind turbines and heliostat mirrors (for solar thermal towers), assuming for this scenario that 50 percent of manufacturing is done onshore. If Australia moves to export these components as domestic

demand begins to taper off towards the end of the transition decade, we can ensure that we are well-positioned to be a leader in the global renewable energy economy. These figures refer only to direct jobs involved in the renewable energy systems.” The plan calls for “large-scale CST (solar thermal) plants incorporating power tower technology and molten salt storage”. The main ingredients of CST are concrete, steel, glass and sodium or potassium nitrate, all of which are already produced in very large quantities locally. Australia’s construction industry already uses over 60 million tonnes of concrete per year, of which less than seven percent would need to be ‘diverted’ for CST and wind plant construction.

INFRASTRUCTURE Constructing a ‘fly by train’ network to reduce emissions. Melbourne to Sydney is the fourth busiest airtravel (passenger) route in the world. Recent studies have been published into the prospect of an alternative in the form of a high-speed train service to rival Japan’s Shinkansen, China’s awesome Beijing to Hong Kong project (now in Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


China Highspeed Rail build with the expectation of travel between the two city centres – 2,000km apart as the crow flies – in just ten hours) or Germany’s ICE. According to Matthew Wright, campaign director of Beyond Zero Emissions, a fast train network serving Australia would be “visionary and nation building. It will stimulate our domestic construction sector, providing thousands of jobs, whilst being a serious step to avoiding the looming oil and climate crises. “Starting with Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra, building 4,500 km of track would link Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra, cost approximately $64 billion (just one year of oil imports in 2015), employ tens


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

of thousands in construction and maintenance workers whilst using significant local content”, Wright explains. “The trains can be powered through electrified rails, offering zero emissions transport when combined with 100 percent renewable energy built into the existing electricity grid.”

REDESIGN AND RETROFIT Demand for new stock unaffected, while retrofit set to boom. Forecasts show that the national housing stock will grow by around 1.7 million homes by 2020 and, increasingly, regulations and advisories are ensuring greater levels of sustainability in

Construction Jobs Graph - Beyond Zero Emissions design and build. On a larger scale, sustainable design has become such a major part of the concept of design that it is now often included in the planning and design process by urban and city planners, in their strategy for either designing a new city, or extending an existing one. So the new homes will be built more and more using eco-friendly, or ‘green’, construction: building a structure that is beneficial or nonharmful to the environment, and resource-efficient. This type of construction is efficient in its use of local and renewable materials, and in the energy required to build it, and the energy generated while being within it. Carbon pricing

will lead to loud calls from the general public as well as industry for retrofit and redesign of commercial and domestic buildings to minimise the need for heating and cooling, while also converting from gas heating to electric heat pumps. This will help to reduce peak energy demand and also allow for control over the timing of heating and cooling during off-peak periods. An energy-efficiency retrofit of the existing building stock, a zero carbon low energy building standard for new buildings, on-site renewable energy generation, all sound like good ecological sense but also sound like solid business opportunities. There may after all be less to fear from carbon pricing than many currently think. Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


ver the last hundred and sixty five years, the Dura family of Holland has been creating a construction empire based on a conservative philosophy and work ethic. Originally established in 1950, Dura Constructions Australia stays true to its conservative roots. In fact, it was due to these guiding principles that the Australian branch of Dura Constructions was able to rise up in the early 1990s to buy out full ownership of its branch from Dura International. “It’s a quite simple philosophy, based on my experience, that ultimately all of us – me, you, everyone – we work very hard for one purpose . . . we work for our loved ones, our family,” Richard Khor, Director and Proprietor of Dura Constructions Australia, explains. “What we’re trying to encourage . . . it’s difficult in the construction industry, because you have long hours and time constraints, but our basic philosophy is to give

a good, effective day’s work and then be able to spend the evenings and weekends relaxing with our loved ones.” “As much as possible, our direction is to work five days a week, but on some projects, you have to work six days. We always allocate the staff who wants to work the additional time to do work on an overtime basis.” With an office staff of approximately ten Contract and Project Managers, Estimators and Accountants and an on-site staff that varies from twenty-five to thirty, Mr Khor’s management approach is one of equality and communication. “Communication is very important in every industry. It is in the way you treat your staff and to be able to have that same level of communication. It’s not, ‘I’m the boss, you’re the worker; I tell you how to do it.’ It’s to have that exchange of ideas, and listen to even the Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


labourer. Listen. Because they are specialised in their area, they can do things much quicker than people like me, sitting in the office. They know how it should be done. So if one is prepared to listen, and have the rapport across the board, whether it’s with your staff member/labourer or your subcontractors, then I think already it’s a right move for any company.” Mr Khor’s approach was nurtured by his own experience within Dura Constructions. Starting out with the company as a Site Engineer, he worked his way up to become a Construction Director and ultimately the company Proprietor. Mr Khor appreciates the importance of every member of his team and indeed, it shows; many of his employees have been with the company for over twenty years. This same appreciation carries through in the


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

way Dura Constructions works together with architects, contractors and clients in the field. “We try not to have any conflicts with consultants because that can cause problems for builders as well because they then will have unknowingly overstepped the boundaries and upset the architects or consultants. So we work closely with them and convey our technical experience to them . . . [it requires] a lot of communicating and sensitive PR work not to overstep the boundaries.” As a full-service construction company, Dura Constructions is often called upon to carry out any manner of responsibilities and roles for a project, from entrepreneurial, research, management, financial, operational, to plant and labour. “Whilst we have the expertise, not all of it is

“It’s a quite simple philosophy, based on my experience, that ultimately all of us – me, you, everyone – we work very hard for one purpose . . . we work for our loved ones, our family,” -Richard Khor, Director and Proprietor of Dura Constructions Australia

called up concurrently,” Mr Khor explains. “On the technical side, we will provide clients with some ideas on the cost-effective way of doing the project.” The diverse company may be called upon to undertake feasibility studies for one project or simply to carry out the actual construction of another, but always, Dura Constructions’ approach is of an equal commitment to ensuring the customer is pleased with the results, and that each and every job is completed with careful attention to detail and quality standards. “How you finish the job is quite critical . . . not just that you finish, but also that you have no defects.” Another aspect of Dura Constructions which is somewhat unique within Australia’s construction industry is its financial stability, which it ensures with strict fiscal conservatism. Operating with a positive cash flow and no debt, Dura

Workforce Extensions Mt Waverley values its longstanding relationship with Dura Constructions.

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Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Constructions is confident that it may weather any financial storms. Because of its strong finances, Dura has become a builder of choice for many contractors and consultants as it is a reliable and respected company. “Also, very important, you have to treat your subcontractors as you would yourself . . . So over the years, once you establish that rapport and trust, then it makes it easier to get that additional discount from your suppliers and subcontractors.” Dura Constructions also has a keen interest in environmental conservancy. Through a systematic approach to recycling and resource reuse, Dura Constructions is consistently working toward a steady decrease in air, land, and waterway pollutants caused by the construction industry. Additionally, Dura Constructions’ staff work with clients on site to suggest ways of maintaining


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

or enhancing the natural environment of each build site. Frequently, trees and topsoil native to the site can be saved and can actually enhance the completed project. A common problem in the construction process is the contamination of groundwater, especially when digging out basements. Dura Constructions offers a variety of services to meet this need, including water testing and monitoring, as well as enhanced construction designs which it may offer to clients. Many of the company’s recent projects have been part of the Federal Government’s stimulus plan - in particular, a number of schools which have been repurposed into “super schools”. Dura also undertakes a variety of other projects, often with the Federal Government, such as a high-security munitions factory, a research lab,

“How you finish the job is quite critical . . . not just that you finish, but also that you have no defects.” -Richard Khor, Director and Proprietor of Dura Constructions Australia

and recently, nursing homes and council works. While Dura Constructions traditionally works on institutional projects, it also has completed a number of projects such as housing with no outside financing. A recent project involved building approximately twenty housing units in Mount Waverley. “We’ve got a good team that’s committed to what they’re doing,” says Mr Khor. “So with that commitment of the staff, I believe that the company will go from strength to strength and not be too ambitious, to do what we are capable of doing and not to over-extend.” In this very competitive market, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of possibility, but Dura Constructions is committed to upholding its original philosophy and work ethic. “We want to grow steadily. We’re not chasing jobs. We want the client to be happy when we finish a job.” Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

-By John Boley


ome 30 km northwest of Sydney’s CBD in Baulkham Hills is Quasar Constructions. Calling itself the “perfectly mediumsized” building company, Quasar is able to handle $25 million projects but is without the problems of red tape, working to shareholders’ agendas, or being burdened by obsolete systems. There’s more: flexibility of response, direct contact with top management and “geographical flexibility”. Indeed Quasar sums itself up as “next generation building”. These are far from modest claims. Yet James Crawford, Quasar’s director, paints a very down-to-earth portrait. “I like to think Quasar is a good Australian-owned business and we like to think we have respect in our market. We like to think that every project we do is something we are proud of and also that the client is happy with their product and feel as if they have got value for money. I like to think we are going to be around for a long time, especially with our style of doing business which we think is different to the others.” Different? “I tend to think so. Especially in our market, being the medium sized market. We give customer service. We provide cost planning, detailed programming sequencing, all that sort of thing free of cost. We like to be a bit proactive – delivering good product and getting repeat business.” Quasar boasts that it will “never take a tender document at face value” but instead will proactively analyse it to assess critical client issues and examine aspects of buildability such as staging or cost savings. “Most of our clients are quite happy that we look at alternatives – different materials, for example, or different sequencing ideas – in order to save money.”

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Mr Crawford says the vast majority of Quasar’s clients are in favour of being given a set of options and cites a project completed at Penrith as an example of the benefit potential. “At Southlands, the client wanted a green project. I think everyone was given the opportunity to produce something that would be cutting edge and probably quite expensive.” But when Quasar’s staff took a detailed look at the project and put a price on it, they came out with a figure that exceeded the client’s budget. “So we went through it again and changed the structural design and air conditioning design, modified electrical and hydraulic designs, introduced some prefab walls between tenancies – and saved 1.5 million dollars for the client (on a $15m project). And he’s still got a project that was fit for use and that everyone can look back on and be proud of.”


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Some other companies would just price it like it is, reckons Mr Crawford, but “we like to think we are proactive. We prefer to offer what we think is a fit-for-purpose alternative that can be cheaper, smarter, faster, without deviating from the architectural design. We tend to spend two to three thousand dollars more per tender than the others to do this. “Sometimes it’s welcomed, other times it can be seen as a waste of time – some clients are happy to stick with what the documents originally shown.” But the bulk of prospective clients seem to be in favour of the way Quasar takes a closer look at the tender and “we believe it’s good business practice to do it. We see ourselves as a service, almost as a consultancy rather than just a builder who builds off drawings.” This is good for business, he asserts. “I want more negotiated contracts, rather than just competitively tendering, so people get the real benefit of our expertise.”

Mr Crawford, who founded the company 15 years ago with fellow director Luke Smith, likes to stress the ethical dimension to Quasar’s approach. “We are not like competitors who are bigger than us. I tell my guys ‘don’t take [just] any opportunity’. We are growing, we want to be in this business for a long time”, build on reputation and be regarded as a trustworthy partner. The benefits of trust are exemplified, he adds, in a recent project, Allowah Children’s Hospital, where Quasar carried out the project in a partnership deal with the Presbyterian church and the architect “and it was fantastic because all three of us worked together and achieved the correct product.” The relationship with the architectural firm has consequently blossomed and “they have since given us a lot of other opportunities as they see the benefit of negotiated tenders with a builder you can trust. At the moment I think we are up to about 60 percent ARC has been with you since 1920. We were the first Australian company to


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manufacture mesh, and we’ve continued our pioneering spirit through the steel reinforcing and fencing products you use today. We’re as much a part of landmark buildings like the MCG and Parliament House, as we are to your front driveway. Millions of Australians enjoy the security of our fences as well as the quality of the buildings and infrastructure we’ve helped create. But it’s the relationships we’ve forged along the way that make us truly proud. ARC would like to thank our employees, customers and suppliers for 90 extraordinary years. For more, visit or call us on 131 557. We go to extraordinary lengths.


Australian Construction Focus | December29/11/10 2010 10:44:45 AM

“We like to be a bit proactive – delivering good product and getting repeat business.”


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

of our business being via negotiation. “I have some highly experienced managers and site foremen that have been with the company for over 10 years, and a good core strength. There is no tier of management – anyone can ring the directors straight away and we know everyone on a first-name basis – and that’s the way I want to keep it.” Quasar’s portfolio of projects includes not only the retail sector but also community, commercial/industrial, corporate interiors, aged care, medical, residential, specialist buildings, hospitality and entertainment sectors. Recent projects have included a good deal of school development, hospitals and church buildings. Mr Crawford notes that although ecologically sustainable design is usually desirable in such sectors, in practice it can be difficult to afford. “I think the problem is that people do feasibility studies and then they go to the bank. In New South Wales, a lot of projects are borderline

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

feasible and banks will not lend if it’s borderline.” In many cases an ecologically sustainable design is not a cheap option and the chances are it “will not stack up for the banks,” he believes, “and that’s the problem for some of these private investors” – unlike government departments, he says, where the yield is better for a developer to produce a ‘green’ building. That is not to suggest there is no ‘green’ momentum in the private sector (he points to Penrith Southlands’ water re-use tanks as an example) but the ‘green’ bandwagon is running “a little bit slower than in the public sector”. Feasibility, of course, is about keeping the business viable, so does the unusual Quasar approach pay the bills as well as sound good? Mr Crawford thinks it does. “I like to be a little bit humble because the proof of the pudding is that we are doing well. Business is good – I think there are a lot of companies that are struggling for work but at the moment we are very busy.”

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

-By Jen Hamilton

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



very issue, Australian Construction Focus profiles a structure of unique historical, cultural, or environmental significance. This month, we take a closer look at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Canberra. Scientists at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) have made significant contributions to the international scientific community and to world health. Over the last 50 years, two Nobel Prizes, the Albert Einstein Award, the Prime Minister’s Science Prize as well as many other notable honours have been granted for discoveries made at the institute. The Australian National University, with contributions from the ACT Government and the Australian Commonwealth Government, recently began a three stage redevelopment of the world re-


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

nowned JCSMR in order to provide its scientists with a facility that is on par with the work being done within. Demolition and construction began in 2006 and was parcelled out into three stages in order to minimise disturbance to the school’s ongoing research. The finished product (stage three began mid-2009) will be a secure, state of the art biomedical research institute which manages to maintain the feel of an open and welcoming public space. An organised, multifunctional workplace is being integrated into the social atmosphere of a university campus. The structure itself is a low-rise, three level, 19400 m2 building containing both formal and informal settings. Every effort was made to cre-

ate an efficient professional space without sacrificing areas for social interaction. Offices are located adjacent to adaptable labs, designed to allow research groups of all sizes to collaborate in one area. These work spaces are connected by a matrix of atria and landscaped courtyards, settings for more casual encounters. Stairways, lifts and balconies are centrally located as a focus for traffic and exchange. As the JCSMR is not only a place of professional research, but also a place of learning, a 200 seat lecture theatre was included in the design. Within the main entrance, an expansive foyer space acts as a showcase for distinguished projects and school achievements.

Various use classifications were needed, each with special compliance requirements including OGTR guidelines and AQIS requirements. Animal Holding facilities with Physical Containment Level 3 laboratories were constructed. Guidelines for PC3 labs demand that all lab surfaces be smooth, impermeable to water, and resistant to damage by cleaning agents. These labs also must have special ventilation systems and filters, an airlock with self-closing doors, and the capability to maintain air pressure of at least 50Pa below adjacent areas. Design and construction of electron microscopy and neuroscience vibration control provided additional challenges.

The internal facilities required by researchers exhibited significantly more technical difficulty.

Consistent with the ideals of a forward thinking institution, several environmentally sustainable Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


design features were also integrated into the JCSMR. Materials from the previous buildings demolished on site were reused where possible. Large windows allow abundant natural light to shine throughout the school and automatic lighting control is installed in many areas. The building itself is east to west orientated, and an adaptive air conditioning system is employed with a passive solar chimney, openable windows, and night purge fans. The wide concrete stairs leading up to the main entrance act as a plenum space; fresh, outdoor air is drawn in beneath the stairs and the 200 seat audito-


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

rium is ventilated naturally, reducing energy consumption. The sprawling exposed aggregate staircase leads up to a unique forecourt and signature entryway. Immediately one notices the series of great metal clad fins sweeping across the school’s exterior. The full height glass panels allow a view into the exhibition foyer framed by the unique fins. Upon closer viewing, the more intricate design details can be appreciated. Digitally rendered, two storey concrete wall panels display pictographs representing the scientific nature of the world class institute. The

pictographs depict symbols of humankind, a collection of human cells, the DNA chemical bases and, perhaps most recognizable, the DNA double helix. By transferring drawings to a computer controlled 3D profiling machine, foamed plastic blanks of the pictographs could be made. These were then used to cast a concrete production mould for the off-white panels. The approach walls also display design detail with a high quality cast insert of the facility name. Along the top and bottom of the faรงade run two continuous aluminium strips. Adding interest to

the design, the strips twist across the entry and alternate with exposed aggregate banding as they pass the laboratory exteriors. The future goals of the professionals working at the John Curtin School of Medical Research include continuing excellence in the fields of biomedical science, and one day understanding and providing treatments for devastating diseases like HIV/AIDS and diabetes. Now, these brilliant minds have an equally brilliant workplace in which to make these visions a reality. Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


-By Melissa Thompson


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


he nature of the building and construction industry is cyclical. Economic downturn has resulted in success for some and devastating loss for others. As a result of its strong client relationships and reputation as the go-to firm that does it all, Wood & Grieve Engineers (WGE) has remained successful. It has proven itself as a leader and a company that can take on challenging jobs while still providing the highest levels of customer service. This attitude and commitment to clients has resulted in a stellar reputation and repeat business throughout the Australian markets. As the company approach-

es its 50th anniversary next year, it looks forward to continued success and expansion. Specialising in land and civil development as well as numerous types of engineering consulting, WGE was founded in 1961 by Tony Wood and Kip Grieve and was based in West Perth. At the time, its focus was structural and mechanical engineering design. In 1969, electrical services were added and in the early 1970s, further expansion resulted in civil services being added to WGE’s repertoire. The firm has since grown into a national company with a staff of

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

“If you put the right people on the job, you should have the ability to provide a fully coordinated service, and that’s what we aim to do.” over 300. Its six offices are located throughout the metropolitan areas of Australia and include one office in Shenzhen, China. WGE provides civil, structural, electrical, mechanical, hydraulics, fire, ESD and acoustic engineering consulting in a number of sectors. This “one stop shop” approach has enabled WGE to become one of Australia’s most successful consulting firms. While some clients might be reluctant to patronise companies that function using this model, fearing they are ‘jacks of all trades, masters of none,’ Jose Granado is confident that this is not the case at Wood & Grieve. Mr Granado, WGE’s Director and National Project Coordinator says, “if you put the right people on the job, you have the ability to provide a fully coordinated service, and that’s what Wood and Grieve Engineers aims to do.”

Credit Where Credit is Due

While Wood & Grieve has been the recipient of numerous awards, Mr Granado is particularly proud of ones that are representative of client recognition. The company has previously been recognised by Business Review Weekly as winner of the Professional Services Client Choice Awards for best Western Australia firm and best National firm. It has also been honoured by numerous industry associations for its work on specific projects over the years - from awards for lighting design in the 80’s to commendation for “Best State Government Building” award for WA Basketball Centre in 2010. Fundamentally, Wood & Grieve relies on two guiding principles in its approach to work, helping it to become a “truly reputable national company.” The first is the provision of excepAustralian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

In recent years, WGE has aligned itself with more challenging and large-scale projects. It carried out electrical services for the $2 Billion Fiona Stanley Hospital located in Murdoch, Western Australia. It is the largest building infrastructure project ever undertaken by the State. WGE was responsible for state representation in reviewing all of the hospital’s engineering services. Mr Granado considers this “such a large feather in [WGE’s] cap to do such a large scale project.” It has been an incredibly exciting and motivating project for the firm and has resulted in “confidence in ability to carry out such large projects.” The hospital’s first stage looks to be completed in 2014 and will have a capacity of 643 beds and an additional 140 rehabilitation beds.

tional service to clients above all else. Second, the firm considers it key to recognise that “the best and most important asset Wood and Grieve Engineers has is its people.” By being consistent and reaching out to employees to meet their needs, WGE has kept staff turnover low and created a fun and relaxed company culture - a culture responsible for much of the firm’s success. Staff members receive positive reinforcement, and milestones and achievements are monitored and presented to employees on a weekly basis. The fact that the company is 100% owned by employees also speaks to Wood & Grieve’s commitment to staff agency. When the company does well, two profit shares are passed on to staff members yearly. As a result, there is a real incentive to do quality work and to maintain the firm’s already solid reputation. This model has been largely responsible for creating a real team atmosphere at WGE. The approach the company takes to work-life Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

balance, along with its commitment to teamwork, has resulted in an open and transparent atmosphere. All employees at WGE are, quite literally, on the same level. “No one has a cubicle with a door…everyone is accessible.” It encourages employees to get off their chairs and talk to each other face to face, rather than always relying on telephone and interoffice email. This promotion of personal interaction results in employees at all levels knowing each other by name. The employment of what Mr Granado calls a “nonhierarchical structure” results in senior level and newer staff members working side-by-side, problem solving and learning together, even if that means working late into the night.

ways come, which is really, really nice. They’re very proud, and they can’t wipe the smiles off their faces.” Past employees mingle with new faces to share ideas and engage one another as WGE promotes a “work hard, play hard” atmosphere. Staff and their partners are encouraged to involve themselves in Wood & Grieve’s social clubs and to participate in community fundraisers. Ultimately, WGE heads into the future as a firm ready for challenging and high profile jobs while promoting personal and professional growth from within its workforce. It brings highly skilled professionals and strong partnerships to the table, and strives to be a company that “provides exceptional service and has fun doing it.” With its open approach and strong culture, Wood & Grieve has proven itself an adaptable and capable company committed to the highest of standards.

A Legacy To Be Proud Of

While Messrs Wood and Grieve are no longer involved in the day-to-day operations, they are familiar faces at WGE functions and events. “Kip and Tony are always there,” says Mr Granado, “as are all the other previous managing directors. They always get invited, and they alAustralian Construction Focus | December 2010



ll construction projects hav project manager handles th his skill. And working on an uno enough, but refurbishing a stillbrings its own set of challenges occupants. Fit-out and refurbish to run!

As a recognised leader in the fie for Australia’s commercial office Sense Projects Pty Ltd is proud of to proving high-quality fit-out a though they will celebrate five y Projects Director/Owners Brett E sess over 30 years’ worth of hand commercial, retail, and hotel fi knowledge of site management enabled them to successfully ta successful projects, and amass than enviable.


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

ve their hurdles, and it’s how a he unexpected that truly defines occupied job site can be difficult -occupied retail or office space s, both for the builders and the hment jobs can be quite a course

eld of construction management e, retail, and hospitality sectors, f its stellar record when it comes and refurbishment projects. Alyears in business in 2011, Sense Eichhorn and Kristian Kelly posds-on experience in the nation’s fit-out industry. Their amassed t and project management has ake on the construction of many a client list that is nothing less

“About 70 to 80 per cent of our work is in occupied spaces,” says Sense Project’s Brett Eichhorn. Beginning his career as a carpenter in the industry back in 1990, Eichhorn became involved in project and site management, working on everything from office refurbishments to $30 million, five-star hotels. Along with fellow Director and co-owner Kristian Kelley, whose experience includes work in the residential sector, interior fit-out, refurbishment, and a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science - Construction Management, the duo created Sense Projects with a goal: to be Australia’s leading client service commercial fit out construction manager. By providing fit-out and refurbishment works with minimal to no impact on their client’s day-to-day business, they have a well-earned reputation for on-time and on-budget projects, with minimal disturbance. “A big part of refurbishment and fit-out is that you have to work in occupied space, without being disruptive or conflicting with the clients or the tenants that are sitting in there,” says Kristian Kelly. For Sense Projects, years of hard work are paying off. By being involved in every one of their projects, Kelly and Eichhorn Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


lend not only their vast skills in construction management to their clients, but peace of mind that they will be there and on call if necessary. In keeping with the company’s awareness of the needs of its clients, Sense Projects ensures that the site managers and contractors it uses fully understand what it means to work in occupied spaces. “There is a big difference between subcontractors that work in construction, and subcontractors who work in fit-out,”


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

remarks Eichhorn. There is, he says, a different mindset needed when it comes to operating in a space with tenants, and being mindful of clients occupying the space.

Many Well-Known Clients

Although they have been in business going on five years, the team at Sense Projects has a large portfolio of top-tier clients in many sectors.. Among its professional repertoire are well-known institutions like American Express, Fujitsu, J .Walter Thompson, Oracle Corporation Australia, Ricoh, Rothschild, and Villeroy and Boch. Along with a 100 per cent performance record, Sense Projects continually strives to raise its client service benchmark with every project. Its commitment to quality, along with personable client-oriented service, has enabled Sense Projects to gain not only glowing references, but a great deal of repeat business in just a few years.

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

“We believe much of our success comes from us being accountable,” says Kelly, adding that one of the reasons he and Eichhorn started the company was to correct some of the errors they had seen in the past. Prior to Sense, they felt some companies were too inexperienced to take on projects for bigger companies, and that the work was being carried out by newcomers to the profession. “We felt that there was a market that wasn’t being serviced,” says Eichhorn. “Clients were being neglected, and they weren’t getting the service that they deserved, so we wanted to focus in on those projects.” Through years of construction management, the company has not only gained numerous clients, but made significant professional partnerships along the way with designers, architects, and other firms like CB Richard Ellis, Colliers International, Creative Concept Designs, Eastview Commercial Pty Ltd, PAD Architects, Robert Ferguson Architect, and Woodhead. A number of

its clients, in fact, have been referred to Sense Projects through the architects and designers it has worked with over the years.

High Quality Work With Few Disruptions

Called upon to provide quality fit-out and refurbishment works with minimal intrusion, Sense Projects holds a simple philosophy: maintain the needs of its clients as its top priority. Along with Eichhorn and Kelly, privately-owned Sense Projects has four full-time employees, all in management positions. Key to the company’s success is maintaining a personal, hands-on approach with clients, and hiring the best and most suitable contractors and tradespeople to make sure the job gets done right. Sense Project serves New South Wales, and is able to take on a vast range of projects as small as $10,000 or in excess of $3 million. Some

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

recently won an award for its work with Cerrone Jewellers’ flagship store. The nature of fine jewelry required a certain degree of opulence, which can be seen in high grade finishes, and attention to detail in the stone tiled entrance, walnut timber and copper/bronze finished joinery display cases and benches, detailed timber moulding across the ceiling, and even onto the German handmade carpet selected for the store. For the head office of Walter Turnbull and various projects for the St. George Bank, the company has created high end reception and lobby area, new boardrooms, meeting rooms, kitchen and breakout areas. “Project managers and architects place us on the list because of our experience in working in occupied space,” says Kelly, “which as you can imagine is reasonably more difficult, and takes a lot more planning and a lot more hard work.” projects can be completed in a single weekend, while other, larger jobs usually take four to six weeks to complete. As Eichhorn and Kelly point out, the company is not only accountable to its clients, but keep a finger on the pulse of every stage of its projects. Recently, Sense Projects managed an entire job through conceptual design, working with the designer, council certification, a private certified review, speaking and organizing with the clients whether consultants were required, and tacking the documentation to a level of construction, which it then managed through to completion. “Typically, it’s not one of the things that we usually get involved in, but we are more than happy to take on that role if need be,” comments Kelly. A member of the Master Builders Association, the Green Building Council Australia, the Faculty Management Association of Australia, and the Property Council of Australia, the company Australian Construction Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


he foundation for Tony Kelly’s successful career in politics and helping shape the future of the nation was well on its way decades ago. As the head of three key ministries in New South Wales, a Member of the NSW Legislative Council, and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, the Hon. (Tony) Anthony Bernard Kelly serves as Minister for Planning, Minister for Infrastructure, and Minister for Lands, roles vital to overseeing necessary housing and infrastructure projects to accommodate Australia’s rapidly growing population. “New South Wales expects that in the next 25 years, we’ll have about 2.3 million extra people,” says Minister Kelly. “Sydney alone will increase by 1.7 million people.” The population projections are massive, and will require much more than just housing. In addition to coordinating the construction of infrastructure such as roads, railway lines and shopping

areas, NSW will – with a projected 40 per cent increase in population – need to create 46 per cent more housing, which means the development of another 770,000 new units. “We’ll also need to create some 760,000 new jobs for that population of 1.7 million people.” Breaking down the numbers into smaller figures, it translates into the need for another 30,000 new home sites to enter the market each and every year for the next quarter of a century. Appointed by NSW Premier Kristina Keneally as Minister for Planning, Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Lands in December of 2009, Minister Kelly is a Member of the Australian Labour Party, and Leader of the House in the Legislative Assembly. Among the Minister’s many challenges are long-term planning for sustainable growth in the region, and ensuring that new housing is well-located and carefully planned through an efficient,

“New South Wales expects that in the next 25 years, we’ll have about 2.3 million extra people,” -The Hon. Tony Kelly, Minister for Planning, Minister for Infrastructure, and Minister for Lands

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


streamlined system. The three ministries, says the Hon. Tony Kelly, have a synergy that unites them all.

Actively Addressing NSW’s Housing Needs

Reports from a number of groups, including The Housing Industry Association (HIA), have warned that Australia’s housing shortage will continue to increase, unless sustainable growth is achieved. There are a number of factors that come into play, ranging from affordability to skilled labour to having adequate amounts of land on which to build. Minister Kelly says there are enough construction firms available for the task, and that the 2009 government stimulus package to construct thousands of new homes and upgrade schools has contributed to the overall health of the NSW construction sector. “In New South Wales, 50 per cent of the state is still crown land or government land,” says Minister Kelly. “We’re able to use that for infrastructure and planning for new areas. There is a synergy between infrastructure and planning, because planning coordinates the development of whole new areas.” In tandem with the stimulus package, Minister Kelly says the NSW government is well on its way with allocating land for construction. “There are two big growth centre areas that the government some years ago allocated: the northwest growth centre, and the southwest growth centre,” says the Minister. “They are designed to cover housing for the next 25 to 30 years, and we’ve rezoned and freed up half of that.” The goal of creating 30,000 new home sites annually will comprise of a mixture of green fill or infill sites, and a combination of houses along with smaller units.


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

In New South Wales, 50 per cent of the land. “We’re able to use that for infras There is a synergy between infrastruct coordinates the developm

-The Hon. Tony Kelly, Minister for Planning, M

Demand from Within the Nation?

Over the years, some have stated that much of the unprecedented demand for housing in Australia is largely the result of waves of immigrants coming to the country. Minister Kelly says this popular notion is a misconception, and that many other factors come into play, including birth figures and increased longevity. “Seventy per cent of the expected increase over the next 25 years will come from inside,

mediately is a doubling in the population.” Recent figures (as of July) peg Australia’s population at 21,515,754 and growing. Demand for housing in Australia varies considerably from one area to another. Whereas demand has made Sydney – the nation’s largest and most populous city with over four million – one of the highest-priced places to buy a home in Australia, the capital city of Melbourne is fast catching up. As a result, Sydney is actually now becoming more affordable than it has been in the past. To try to keep housing prices down, Minister Kelly says considerable funds were allocated for housing developments in the last budget. “We’ve also put a cap on the amount of infrastructure charges that councils can charge.”

state is still crown land or government structure and planning for new areas. ture and planning, because planning ment of whole new areas.”

Minister for Infrastructure, and Minister for Lands

an increase of child births over deaths, and everyone will live longer.” Recent figures state that the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to increase by an astonishing 224 per cent, and as such there will be a greater need for housing for seniors. “As people live longer, they are more likely to be in singleperson dwellings, and perhaps seniors’ living,” comments the Minister. “A hundred years ago in Great Britain, the life expectancy of a male was 43; today, it is 73, and higher, so there im-

In many ways, the three roles served by Minister Kelly – Planning, Infrastructure, and Lands – represent the culmination of his many years in politics. His first job after leaving school was working for the Department of Lands in Sydney, which was involved in subdivisions and creating new land for housing. Along with being active in his community, and a member both the Neurea and Mount Arthur Rural Fire Service Brigades, Minister Kelly has held many prominent positions over the years, including Minister for Police, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Juvenile Justice, and Minister for Emergency Services. His term of service expires in March of 2011, but Minister Kelly says, “it is my intention to re-contest.” When he is not working, Minister Kelly enjoys spending time with his other passions – his family, studying the history of the Irish in Australia, and outdoor sports like cycling, golfing and skiing. Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


-By Aleisha Parr


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


uilding on the success wrought from a strong private sector background in the construction and building industry throughout Queensland, Matrix has endeavoured to balance its workbook with an increased attention on public sector projects. With a proven track record of delivery – on time and to cost – further enhanced by its attention to high quality detail work and impeccable safety standards, Matrix’s success in both fields has been almost guaranteed. With a range of pre-construction, construction and post-construction services, Matrix excels in providing holistic and well-rounded construction solutions. “Our proven method of service to and beyond final completion ensures a smooth transition from construction to operation and maintenance of an asset.” In response to the strong demand in and around Queensland’s regional centre for in-fill development, Matrix has recently been involved in numerous projects in both the Brownfield and

Greenfield sites, establishing a strong reputation for itself for the quality of development and construction work it has provided. This has encompassed projects including Kelvin Grove Urban Village ($69 million), Reflection Tower One and Two ($110 million), Viridian at Noosa ($115 million) and Gateway on Palmer ($38 million). Matrix’s complete services from design through to development were perfectly utilised on these projects, due to the size and scope of each. Preferring to be involved in each project it undertakes from the commencement, Matrix utilises collaborative processes throughout the design phase to allow for input from all parties involved. The purpose of this is to ensure that trade-level feasibility and value added solutions are integrated from the start of the project, minimising cost and maximising value for the client. Matrix firmly believes that money spent upfront by clients in achieving the proper concept will return savings far in excess of its cost. “At Matrix we believe ultimate value for our clients lies in a fully utilised asset which has been

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


delivered at the optimum cost, in an efficient period of time. For us, value management is not about cost cutting, but optimising the relationship between the value and cost of the asset. Our vast experience in pre-construction services enables us to create innovative project solutions at an early stage.” “There are a variety of ways we can manage value, but the most important step is getting the right people in the room together to collaborate on the possibilities.” At Matrix, the focus is on the team while also recognising each individual for the unique talents and experience he brings to the table. Many of Matrix’s employees have past experience working on a wide variety of projects from a range of government departments and agencies, experience which can be invaluable to the Matrix team as a whole.


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

While many of Matrix’s team members have joined the company after working for a wide variety of other firms or organisations, several of Matrix’s key leaders including Foremen and Site Managers have been with Matrix from the beginning, rising up through its structured apprentice program. Matrix has always been a proponent of the idea that the best managers come from within an organisation, and so has created its apprenticeship program to engage its workers in career-building opportunities while also enhancing the strength of its own team. “Just like all Matrix team members, progress, learning and opportunities are determined by the individual themselves. Effort, attitude and abilities all provide a strong impression – if an apprentice demonstrates they are the best person for an upcoming project, every effort will be made to match them to the opportunity while meeting apprenticeship training requirements.”

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Matrix has always been a proponent of the idea that the best managers come from within an organisation, and so has created its apprenticeship program to engage its workers in career-building opportunities while also enhancing the strength of its own team.

In keeping with its holistic approach to the construction industry, Matrix’s supportive nature spreads far beyond its own staff and out into the communities across Queensland where it operates. For example, Matrix has always contributed a percentage of its annual profits to charitable organisations and foundations. Further, Matrix has developed relationships with organisations such as the Cancer Council Queensland, Hear & Say Centre, Operation Smile, and Make a Wish Foundation. “We believe it is important to be involved in our


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

local community and actively encourage Matrix staff to participate in fundraising activities. Our staff thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to give back and are dedicated to supporting local charity initiatives.” Matrix also offers opportunities within its own company, such as training and employment for indigenous Australians on construction projects in Regional North Queensland and has developed protocols and procedures to engage all relevant stakeholders at an early stage of each project’s development. Matrix recognises the

importance of involving established regional community and support organisations in the development of opportunities to ensure a high level of take-up. This enables the identification and implementation of targeted opportunities rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which Matrix feels often fails to meet the community requirements. As its website boasts, Matrix seeks to “leave a lasting legacy of construction-trained people and good levels of local employment within the communities in which we work.” Eager to embrace the latest environmental attitudes and approaches, Matrix is a member of the Green Building Council of Australia, and over seventy-five percent of its Management team are Green Star Accredited Professionals. The Matrix team is proud to have recently delivered several Green Star Projects including the prestigious 5-Star Green Star Rated Wesley House. Throughout every project, the company

works to identify opportunities to manage and reduce the impact of construction operations, including reducing energy and water usage and waste production. Additionally, Matrix actively seeks out smarter ways of incorporating energy management into an asset’s life beyond project completion, thereby offering a cost reduction to its clients while also becoming more energy efficient. Matrix’s success can be seen not only in its completed projects and numerous repeat clients, but also in its strength at the Queensland Master Builders’ Association Awards, where it has won over forty awards in a variety of categories including the Project of the Year Award in two consecutive years. Drawing strength from its team and building upon each success, Matrix is able to meet each of its clients’ projects with a thorough understanding of the plan and a solid undertaking of the construction.


We bring 50 years of global experience to commercial, residential and community land development projects. We are proud to have contributed to the Viridian project and to offer all our clients a comprehensive suite of ground engineering, environmental, design and construction services. Engineering Earth’s Development, Preserving Earth’s Integrity.

10 offices across Australia +61 7 5475 5900

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


-By John Boley


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


eil and Penny David are names well known throughout Australia’s construction industry. They have experience ranging from earthworks to mining, pavement construction, piling, bridges, dams and marine works, having been involved in many prestigious projects. For the past six years they have been owners of Global Contracting Pty Ltd, a civil contracting and earthmoving business accredited to VicRoads and holding quality certification to ISO 9001:2008 as part of an integrated quality, safety and environmental management system. Global Contracting undertakes contract civil works, as well as providing engineering and project management support to the wider industry. “We have been working around the country for a number of years, working for many of the government authorities and with other major contractors,” the husband-and-wife team explains. They began working with Global Contracting as consultants but took control of the company six years ago because “we thought we could do a better job” (Neil) and because of the “challenge of doing it better than others in our own business” (Penny). “We have worked all over Victoria; we have our head office in Broadford (some 90km north of Melbourne), an office in Perth too and we also work in New South Wales. Predominantly regional is our game, not so much cities, working primarily for local and state government authorities.” Neil and Penny also sometimes take on subdivision work for leading consultants or developers.

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Global Contracting offers a variety of plant hire and logistics services too, but the main focus is on construction - and the company is busy. “We’ve got a lot on at the minute,” reports Penny. At present there’s construction of a new car park in Geelong for Deakin University, construction of the Pyrenees Highway-Wallace St intersection, Wesley Hill, signal installation and roadworks at Bellarine Highway-Christies Road as well as many reconstructions – road junctions, crossroads and roundabouts including “some very large ones for VicRoads”, for example Swan Hill on the Murray Valley Highway and reconstructions and box culverts in Mansfield Shire. Neil confirms that it’s always a challenge to keep heavy traffic flows moving during such works. For Global Contracting, the work comes mainly


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

via tender but as Neil says, “you have to be successful in past projects or you’re not looked at.” Aiming for the most suitable projects for the company and doing them properly is the way to get repeat business, he underlines, largely based on price “but there is a quality element too”. In general the government clients that form much of the company’s work are concerned primarily with quality. Global Contracting has the requisite independent quality accreditation and Penny confirms that “usually at least half the allocation on a tender is to safety and quality so it often happens that the cheapest tender doesn’t get the job.” Global Contracting was responsible for building the criterium cycle race track at Geelong used for the recent world championships. This was a “fast-track project” because the time available was limited by the event deadline while “we had some pretty bad weather. But we still

Australian Construction Focus | December 2010


Victoria’s first regional cycling criterium track, the $1.5 million Geelong Regional Cycling Criterium, is an open road course comprising a 1km and 1.8km track that can be divided into three separate circuits. The track has an asphalt finish and is situated next to the Barwon Valley Activity Centre, opposite K mart, and runs parallel to Barwon Heads Rd, extending under the Settlement Rd overpass into Belmont Common and linking to the existing Barwon River multi-purpose track. The state government contributed $500,000 and maximum ground space to the development, with council contributing the remaining $1 million. In October 2010, Melbourne welcomed the 77th UCI Road World Championships, an event second only to the legendary Tour de France in terms of importance and prestige in international cycling. More than 400 of the world’s best cyclists competed in time trial and road race events based in Geelong. In addition to the challenging courses set in Geelong for these competitors, for the first time in a World Championship, the Elite Men’s Road Race began in one city and finished in another with the start of the race in Melbourne, finishing with laps of the tough circuit in Geelong. Interest in the event was heightened with the presence of defending World Champion Cadel Evans, whose home town of Barwon Heads is just 20 minutes from Geelong. After the event he commented: “Those in the know say that it was the best World Championships in 20 years. We can understand why the atmosphere in Geelong was something - deafening where I was- but very special.”


December 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

got it completed on time. Given the nature of the project and the time of year and the type of ground it was built on,” Neil says – low ground that was saturated underneath – it was a logistically difficult job and required use of as many people and machines as possible between the heavy rains.

just pick up and move stuff.” It’s not complicated, according to Neil. “We do it right. It’s a tough business, especially over the last six months with the weather, [but] we do it right and don’t take short cuts. That’s the way to keep customers and that’s the way we are.”

Neil David attributes the success of Global Contracting to some traditional business values. “We’re very self contained. We have our own trucks, our own concreters, own pipelaying and hydraulics crews; we’re a bit old-fashioned when it comes to not subcontracting everything.” The firm likes to be in complete control over quality, he says. “We have everything of our own, we can control our own destiny a bit better than relying on subcontractors. For example, “if we want to move something in the middle of the night we just get out our low loader and move it” – the company has its own fleet of new and late model earthmoving machines including 5.5-24 tonne excavators, tracked loaders, bobcats, low loaders, tandem tippers and others – “There are companies twice as big as us and half our size; they don’t have their own transport division, but we can Australian Construction Focus | December 2010