The Palaszczuk Government has released an update to its 2018 State Infrastructure Plan as it aims to roll-out a total of $45.8 billion worth of infrastructure over the next four years.
The second part of its State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) focuses on a range of infrastructure spending with its updated release, outlining the $11.6 billion of infrastructure investment to be rolled out in 2018-19, which aims to support up to 38,000 jobs.
Economic forecaster Deloitte Access Economics said that the outlook for engineering construction in Queensland is better than it has been for some time.
“Rather than wallowing in cash from a strong property market and asset privatisations as NSW and Victoria are, the Government is relying more heavily on raising new tax revenue and increasing debt to fund this infrastructure,” Deloitte’s quarterly Business Outlook report said.
Up to 65 per cent of the Queensland’s infrastructure budget is allocated outside of the greater Brisbane area, explained Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick.
“Programs like the Queensland Transport Roads and Investment Program 2018-19 to 2021-22 outlines $21.7 billion in transport and road infrastructure over the next four years, estimated to support an average of 19,200 direct jobs over the life of the program.
The $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, the biggest state funded infrastructure commitment in more than a decade, will be delivered in partnership with the private sector, explains Dick.
Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Steve Abson said the infrastructure investment strategies update provides the private sector with confidence to invest in their Queensland operations.
With it now required to be “actioned collaboratively by all levels of government and the private sector”.
Seven new projects have been added to the Building Queensland (BQ) infrastructure pipeline, including upgrades to the centenary motorway and Sunshine Motorway, and a third track to be added to the Gold Coast rail line between Kuraby and Beenleigh.
BQ Infrastructure Pipeline Report which presents priority infrastructure proposals under development by the Queensland government, shows 18 proposals from the pipeline has received funding commitments from state government since June 2016.
These include upgrades to the M1 from Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill, and Varsity Lakes to Tugan, the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade, the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project and the New Performing Arts Venue.
A rise in interstate migration is seeing more people moving to Queensland, according to the Deloitte’s Business Outlook report, which says the sunshine state now has the third-fastest rate of population growth behind Victoria and the ACT.
The report said that Queensland is “well and truly” through the worst of its mining construction downturn as eye-watering house prices south of the border are sending more “economic refugees north to Queensland”.
City Deal a $58bn ‘Game Changer’ for Southeast Queensland
South-east Queensland could be green-lit for the biggest “city deal” in Australia, with a $58 billion proposal to guide its growth, and the prime minister announcing his support for the major plan.
With a focus on supporting diverse sectors within the region including housing and planning, tourism, manufacturing and education, the SEQ City Deal could also pave the way for government-owned land to be opened for development.
Queensland deputy premier Jackie Trad this week released Transforming SEQ, which highlights 35 “opportunities” that could be considered as part of the future City Deal, including six “game changers” for the region.
“Modelling by KPMG has shown a SEQ City Deal could stimulate an increase of up to $58 billion in our economy by improving the productivity and competitiveness of the region,” Trad said.
Prime minister Scott Morrison will be meeting with the SEQ Mayors and Queensland government to discuss the proposal this week.
The City Deal, which involves all three levels of government — council, state and federal — would see government working on priorities to drive the SEQ economy.
Under a City Deal plan, all three levels of government sign an agreement to set the priority infrastructure projects and initiatives.
Integrated land-use planning approach?
Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison described the announcement as “a game-changer for the region.
“Our growing cities and urban regions are the engine rooms of the Australian economy,” Morrison said.
“The city deal model brings together all levels of government around the same plan to boost productivity and jobs through targeted investment in city-shaping projects and infrastructure.”
Property Council Queensland director Chris Mountford said the council has been collaborating with state government and SEQ councils for nearly six years on the potential for a city deal.
“The State and local governments have also agreed in principle to a more coordinated integrated land-use planning approach,”
“Opening up under-utilised government-owned land for development has also been agreed as a clear opportunity to unlock economic activity, create jobs and build business confidence.”
The region’s current 3.5 million population is forecast to increase to 5.3 million within the next 25 years, ultimately requiring an extra 800,000 homes and additional one million jobs.
Focus has been placed on the recently released people mass movement study which identifies the impact of the expected population growth on the region’s ability to cope with future transport demand.
Minister for Cities Alan Tudge said he, along with the prime minister, will be meeting with the SEQ Mayors to discuss the Deal.
“We need to cater for this rising population and the SEQ City Deal will be a huge step forward,” Tudge said.
South-east Queensland is already home to over two-thirds of the state’s population.
The region is home to nearly one in every seven Australians.
The agreement marks the second city deal for Queensland following the policy being first established in Townsville.
So far, city deals have been developed for Western Sydney, Townsville and Launceston, and a further four more are currently under negotiation in Adelaide, Hobart, Perth and Geelong.
Government considers sinking old trains for a rollingstock reef
Queensland’s old trains could be sunk in Moreton Bay to create the state’s newest artificial reef.
Queensland Rail’s fleet of old electric multiple units (EMU) are being progressively replaced with the New Generation Rollingstock, which are being fixed to comply with disablity laws after being described as flawed “from day one”.
However, rather than end up on the scrap heap, a proposal is being considered by the government to turn a few of the old trains into an underwater tourist attraction in south-east Queensland.
A petition, lodged in the Queensland Parliament, is calling for a small number of the fleet of 87 EMUs to be reused as an artificial reef in Moreton Bay when they are retired.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said he was happy to look at the idea.
“I like the idea of seeing these old trains support new life as artificial reefs in Moreton Bay or somewhere else appropriate along our coast and have previously requested Queensland Rail to examine it further,” he said.
“That said, any plan to sink trains to the sea floor would need to be carefully considered from an environmental, maritime, tourism and cost perspective.”
Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science has advised Queensland Rail it would consider a proposal to use two or four retired EMU or inner-city express [ICE] train units for an artificial reef.
Decisions would have to be made on whether the site would be used for marine life or also as a dive site.
Depth, access, stability in storms and maintenance would also need to be considered.
It is understood the department preferred to use artificial reefs constructed from highly productive, stable, purpose-built reefs with expected life spans of more than 30 years over scrap metal.
No firm proposals have been received and no funding has been committed to the project or a feasibility study.
Greens MP Michael Berkman, who sponsored the petition, said supporting the voices of constituents was a great part of his job.
“The wrecks at Moreton Island are an amazing tourist attraction, and another artificial reef that commemorates Brisbane’s well-loved trains is definitely worth considering,” he said.
“The state and federal government would need to conduct a rigorous environment impact assessment, and traditional owners should get final say, but a “rollingstock reef” could be a beautiful addition to Moreton Bay.”
Rail lobbyist Robert Dow said the retired EMU trains were currently being stored in stabling yards.
“As to suitability for a reef, I’m not in a position to say either way, but my gut feeling is they’re too fragile and I don’t think they’d last too long in the ocean,” he said.
“They’re not like a ship, a ship is designed to be in the sea to a certain degree.”
There are several artificial reefs in Queensland, including at Moreton Bay, the Great Sandy Marine Park, ex-HMAS Brisbane, and ex-HMAS Tobruk.
Dive operators declared the sinking of the ex-HMAS Tobruk a “stuff-up” after it landed on its side, although the Queensland government said a report showed it could still be accessed by beginner divers.
$63b infrastructure plan to keep SEQ moving till 2041
It’s going to cost $63.7 billion to keep South East Queensland moving over the next two decades, according to a study released today by the region’s mayors.
The population of the region is expected to grow by about 1.8 million people to more than five million people by 2041, putting extraordinary demand on the already strained transport network.
The SEQ People Mass Movement Study lists a total of 47 projects designed to keep city-to-city trips under 45 minutes and urban commutes under 30 minutes, including a faster rail network connecting the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast via Brisbane and west to Ipswich and Toowoomba.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the infrastructure plan, coined the Strategic Transport Road Map, would keep the region “economically productive” while maintaining its liveability.
“Business as normal is not going to work, we need to increase the amount of money that is being spent in South East Queensland,” Cr Quirk said.
He said the plan would require an average expenditure of about $2.7 billion per year until 2041, which he said was “not an unrealistic figure”.
“What we are seeing in Sydney and Melbourne right now is this massive spend on infrastructure. That’s because they allowed it to get too far behind. We cannot do that in South East Queensland.”
He said there had been no shortage of plans for the region’s transport network, but it was time for all levels of government to unite with a shared vision.
Redland City mayor Karen Williams said the plan delivered the projects over a “reasonable amount of time with a reasonable amount of investment”.
“It’s not a matter of ‘can we afford this?’ It’s the fact that we can’t afford not to do it,” Cr Williams said.
Faster Rail is not as fast as high speed rail, which delivers speeds up to 350km/h, but could run at about 160km/h with top speeds of up to 200-250kmh, with limited stops.
It would be connected to the light rail networks on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in order to ease congestion on major arterials.
Other projects include the Brisbane Metro, Cross River Rail and road upgrades, including the Pacific, Sunshine, Centenary, Ipswich and Logan motorways and the Bruce, Warrego and Mt Lindesay highways.
The study also took into account emerging technologies including autonomous vehicles.
It was first proposed in 2016, and began in September 2017, with the aim of bringing together multiple local, state and national transport studies into one cohesive plan.
The South East Queensland region takes in the Brisbane City, Ipswich City, Lockyer Valley Regional, Logan City, Moreton Bay, Redland City, Scenic Rim Regional, Somerset Regional, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba Regional council areas.
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