Record number of cranes across Australia amid construction boom


Cranes across the Brisbane skyline. A record 813 cranes were hoisted across Australian skies over the past six months. (Image/Josh Woning)

A record 813 cranes were hoisted across Australian skies over the past six months, signalling strong growth in the property industry, according to the latest figures.

The total, up by 95 cranes – or 13 per cent – is the highest number of cranes ever recorded by the Rider Levett Bucknall Crane Index, which is recorded twice yearly and began in 2012.

RLB Oceania director of research and development Domenic Schiafone said the construction industry had risen above challenges presented by the pandemic to achieve substantial growth.

“What this shows is the remarkable resilience of our industry,” he said.

“The challenges have been numerous since the outbreak of Covid-19 two years ago – supply chain disruptions, increased shipping and freight costs, material price rises, workers home sick or in isolation, pressure on local labour resources and then there’s been the rain. Yet, the industry is still able to produce these record crane numbers.”

A majority of the 813 cranes at work were in capital cities, with Sydney accounting for 348 of the cranes, Melbourne 192, Brisbane 79 and Perth 55. There were 40 in the Gold Coast, 31 in Canberra, 16 in both Adelaide and the Sunshine Coast, 12 in both Wollongong and Newcastle, and two in Darwin.

RLB recorded that construction work rose by 1.8 per cent last year, ­accounting for $3.7bn worth of work. Growth was up 4.9 per cent in the residential sector, accounting for $3.5bn of work, while non-residential work slowed, down 1.4 per cent, or $700m. Engineering also rose, up by 0.9 per cent.

Approvals saw strong growth across the board, according to the index, with a rise of 22 per cent across the nation. Multi-level apartments were up 21 per cent, houses were up 31 per cent, health was up 97 per cent and industrial was up 27 per cent

“Both federal and state governments’ stimulus measures have assisted the economy as the residential sector has seen a large increase of 63 crane numbers in this edition,” Mr Schiafone said. “The residential index rose by 14 per cent, the highest value since the third quarter of 2019.

“Residential cranes now number 506, or 62 per cent of all cranes across Australia. Multi-storey residential developments have recovered from their fourth consecutive fall in previous editions.”