Private sector champion to head Victoria’s new infra office

Ken Mathers, a ‘strong opponent’ to the cancellation of Melbourne’s East West Link project, will oversee the development of infrastructure in the Australian state.

The government of Victoria has appointed Ken Mathers, an infrastructure veteran, to oversee the state’s pipeline of infrastructure schemes in its newly set up Office of Projects Victoria. 

Following on an election commitment, the government last week established the unit within the Department of Treasury and Finance to facilitate the development and implementation of major infrastructure projects. 

Mathers, who has more than 50 years of public service experience, will chair the office. He will be joined by the Victorian chief engineer and a small team of experts in engineering, quantity surveying and construction. 

The office will “build capability and skills in project development and delivery and complement the work of Infrastructure Victoria and the Department of Treasury and Finance,” said the Premier office of Victoria in a statement, adding that it will provide advice on cost, scope and technical matters for asset investment decisions and project delivery arrangements. 

It stressed that the office will monitor all major projects and advise on potential interventions. 

“This is a mature appointment by the Andrews government, noting that Mathers led the East West Link motorway project and was a very strong opponent of the cancellation,” commented Brendan Lyon, chief executive of the government think tank Infrastructure Partnerships Australia. “He has been behind every road from CityLink through to the East West Link and knows government inside out.”

Since September 2015, the Victorian state has been working on a 30-year infrastructure strategy meant to address its domestic infrastructure needs over the coming decades. The consultation is ongoing and a draft of the strategy is expected for later this year.