None of us will forget the fires that devastated NSW from October 2019 to February 2020 burning through 13 million hectares and destroying 3,500 homes and 5,850 outbuildings.
Given the magnitude of the devastation and to accelerate the clean-up efforts required for the fire-damaged properties across the state, the NSW Government engaged Laing O’Rourke to drive the recovery project. SJA was appointed by Laing O’Rourke mid-way through to provide commercial and contract support to its North Coast operation based out of Grafton, regional NSW.
SJA assigned a commercial advisor to work in the region to provide the direct contract and commercial support service, as well as working with the adept commercial and administrative project team to maximise efficiency and hit targets.
It was obvious that this was unlike any project SJA had been involved with. There was an extra level of dedication, effort and care, recognising the need to help thousands of families across the state to take the first step towards rebuilding.
Work included removing all damaged structures and materials, including vehicles, many containing potentially hazardous material, like asbestos, dangerous trees near homes or commercial buildings and damaged driveways and access tracks that could impact on the safety of clean-up.
Work was undertaken simultaneously on the North Coast, South Coast, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys and other impacted communities across the State. The project encompassed 437 localities, spread over 45 local government areas.
To boost the economy of areas effectively shut down by the fires and the double whammy of Covid-19, work was prioritised through local contractors. As part of their ‘local first’ strategy, 99% of contracts were awarded to local small and medium-sized businesses, 26 of which were Indigenous-owned.
The NSW Government and Laing O’Rourke implemented a series of initiatives to make the procurement process less daunting for smaller local firms new to working with a Tier 1 contractor. This included a weekly supply chain payment cycle that enabled payment within seven business days following submission of a payment claim on a weekly basis – helping to get money into regional communities and supporting jobs more quickly.
To simplify the subcontracting process the following measures were implemented:
- Use of subcontract form with language simplified and onerous conditions removed
- No retention was held, no bonds or bank guarantees required
- Standardised pricing schedules and scope of work requirements
- Detailed scope of works for each site agreed before works commenced
- Active coaching of subcontractor administrative and commercial staff in ways to improve their systems to lessen the burden of producing weekly payment claims
- Site records signed on a daily basis and utilisation of Viewpoint Field View – a cloud-based and off-line mobile forms solution that captures daily log and essential for checking of records
- Variation orders fast to prevent any delay to payments for additional works
- Subcontractor payment claims submitted weekly, response within 5 business days and payment within 10 business days, typically achieving 7 business days
- Final accounts were agreed and settled as soon as practical after the subcontractor work was completed.
We commend the NSW Government, Laing O’Rourke, and all the contractors, suppliers and local businesses involved in the project on the uniquely simplified, yet robust and effective way the works were procured and administered.
We were delighted to be part of such an important project that truly helped the regional communities, Laing O’Rourke, and the NSW Government advance towards their vision.