Building Queensland report shows Government slow in progressing infrastructure

Tuesday 17 January, 2017

The release of Building Queensland’s Infrastructure Pipeline December Report on Monday highlighted the slow progress on a number of Queensland’s priority infrastructure projects and the growing need for new investments.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) was disappointed with findings from the Independent Statutory Body that showed only one project had progressed through the “business case” pipeline and is now ready for funding – the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade.

The rail upgrade project has been earmarked as a critical piece of rail infrastructure since it was first announced in 2009 and it undoubtedly will be one of the most significant economic boosts for the Sunshine Coast region over the next few years.

However, CCIQ Senior Policy Advisor Catherine Pham said many businesses would have like to see more than one of the 20 identified priority projects progress through the pipeline and receive the funding needed.

“In June’s report, there were four projects identified as ready for government funding. While we acknowledge that five projects overall received funding, this should have set the benchmark in terms of the number of projects to pass through the pipeline,” Ms Pham said.

“Interestingly, one of the projects which was in fact ready for government funding in June, the Cunningham Highway upgrade, has seemingly been pushed back into the pipeline for it to undergo another analysis.

“I think it will be our regions in particular who will feel let down with the slow progress of these priority projects. They are yet to see any “government-ready” regional projects come out of the pipeline.”

Ms Pham believes the Building Queensland update reports allow businesses and the community to track the progress of the State’s priority projects and apply pressure on the Government to get things moving quicker.

“In total, seven of the projects in June’s report are sitting in the exact same position in December’s update, most of which are in the “assessing the options” stage.

“We certainly understand that it takes time to ensure the projects are feasible and go smoothly, but for only two out of 16 projects to progress its business case will have many Queensland businesses asking what the hold up is.”

Ms Pham said it was important that the Government seriously consider all of the new and existing projects in the pipeline and prioritise infrastructure investment as a whole.

“There’s always a lot of focus on our road infrastructure with governments and politicians tending to choose a “winner” to push ahead with.

“However the Building Queensland report shows that the suite of priority proposals cover a number of areas including digital, water, energy, health ICT, arts, transport, education and public safety. All areas should be seen as equally as important, so we need to prioritise infrastructure investment as a whole.

“All of these different areas affect the livelihood  of our communities and our businesses, and there is a rightful expectation that the government prioritises infrastructure investment across this broad spectrum.”

CCIQ has consistently called for the State Government to boost infrastructure spending to 4.25% of GSP which is the average over the last 10 years. Currently, spending is at 2.6%.

“Even if all of the nine projects in the final stages of December’s report were to have full funding committed to them, it still does not bring us back to that 10 year average of infrastructure spending in this State.

“We need to start thinking about infrastructure spending in a more sophisticated way, mainly taking the politics away from investment decisions and having a long-term view of its economic benefits.

“CCIQ recognises Building Queensland, as an Independent Authority, as a respectable Body who is working towards achieving this. We have seen how effective this has been with getting Cross River Rail funded."

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