With jobs and growth a major concern for political leaders throughout the nation the Queensland Government led by Annastacia Palaszcuk is planning massive infrastructure spending – nearly $46 billion of it – for the state over the next 4 years. It is estimated that up to 38,000 jobs will be supported when the spending begins in 2018-19 with $11.6 billion of infrastructure investment.
Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad has imposed a levy on waste to help boost Treasury resources. They are expected to yield $1.3 billion by 2022, much-needed money because of the record borrowing of up to $83 billion that will be needed to underpin planned infrastructure which will enhance life for its citizens in both urban and rural environments and compensate in jobs for the end of a golden mining and construction boom. Trad has brought forward this borrowing, saying: “Our liveability and our affordability will be compromised if we don’t make the investments in infrastructure today.”
Economic forecaster Deloitte Access Economics Quarterly Business Outlook is supportive, predicting that the outlook for engineering construction in Queensland is better than it has been for some time.
State Development Minister Cameron Dick has pointed out that 65% of the huge infrastructure budget will be spent on regions outside of Brisbane. He gives examples like the Queensland Transport Roads and investment Program which he estimates will support 19,200 jobs over the 4 year life of the program. Another such project, delivered in partnership with the private sector is the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail Project. It is top priority for the government. Cross River Rail unlocks a bottleneck in the transport network ensuring more trains will run more frequently. It is a turn-up and go approach benefiting all of the south-east of the state. There will be four new underground stations of high capacity and an upgrading of the Exhibition station at the RNA Showgrounds to yield better access to work, study and recreation locations. As Steve Abson, CEO of the Infrastructure Association of Queensland says, the government’s strategies provide the private sector with the confidence needed to invest. Collaboration at all levels is a key requirement.
The Building Queensland Infrastructure pipeline has encompassed 7 new projects. These include upgrades to the Sunshine and Centenary motorways and a third track between Kuraby and Beenleigh on the Gold Coast rail line. Since June 2016, 18 proposals from the BQ Infrastructure Pipeline have received funding commitment from the state government. There are upgrades planned to the M1 from Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill, and Varsity Lakes to Tugan, the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail, the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project and the New Performing Arts Venue.
Prohibitive house prices south of Queensland have seen more people moving to the Sunshine State thus adding a sense of urgency about the need to pursue these projects and future-proof Queensland in the most fundamental economic sense.