NEC4 is gaining momentum in Australia, with five contracts worth over AU$130 million (£69 million) let in the past year and four more worth AUS$190 million (£100 million) due shortly. They follow the lead set by Sydney Water, which started three 10 year NEC4-based frameworks worth AU$4 billion (£2.1 billion) in 2020 (Issue 111).
Infrastructure Australia, the Australian government’s independent infrastructure adviser, also gave NEC a boost in its 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan. This highlighted NEC’s wide-ranging application, simplicity, collaborative focus and sharing of risk and reward, as well as how it has helped Britain gain access to international markets and attract investment.
The largest new contract is an AU$86 million (£45 million) NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option C (target contract with activity schedule) awarded in Perth by Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA). It follows MRWA’s successful trial in 2018−19 of a AU$25 million (£13 million) NEC3 ECC Option D (target contract with bill of quantities) on part of the Great Northern Highway upgrade (Issue 107). The new contract, which involves upgrading a section of the Mitchell Freeway, was let in February 2021 to the H2H joint venture of WBHO Infrastructure and NRW Contracting. Completion is due in October 2023.
The other new contracts were all let by Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO), an intergovernmental organisation which is using NEC4 contracts to build the world’s largest radio telescope at sites in Murchison, Western Australia and in South Africa.
Three NEC4 Framework Contracts (FC) for software development worth AU$15 million (£8 million) were let in autumn 2021 to the International Centre for Radio Astronomy and Research in Western Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra, and Fourier Space in Victoria. Work orders are being let under NEC4 Professional Service Short Contracts (PSSC) to keep scopes as flexible as possible.
CSIRO has also won an AU$30 Million (£16 Million) NEC4 PSC for assisting with assembly, integration and verification of SKAO’s planned low-frequency telescope, for which SKAO is about to let four NEC4 infrastructure contracts worth AU$190 (£100 million). These include an NEC4 Design Build and Operate (DBO) contract for the site camp.