Infrastructure Plan promises to deliver for Queensland – with funding

Wednesday 17 February, 2016 | By: Darrell Giles | Tags: Infrastructure Australia, nation building, infrastructure plan;

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) says Australia’s first 15-year infrastructure plan will provide greater certainty for the business community.

CCIQ Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens said the Australian Infrastructure Plan showed a commitment to large infrastructure projects throughout the state.

“CCIQ welcomes the release of the plan which promises to deliver more affordable, innovative and competitive energy, telecommunications, water and transport services that will be crucial in determining the strength of economic growth,” he said.

“With the nation’s population expected to grow to more than 30 million by 2031 and demand for our resources and services continuing to increase, CCIQ applauds the boldness of Infrastructure Australia in having a long-term vision.”

However, Mr Behrens said there was little point having a consensus priority list if there was not a serious funding plan from Federal and State Governments. He noted that the report suggested asset recycling as a key option to fund major infrastructure.

“Queensland faces unique challenges of investing and maintaining a geographically expansive transport, energy, water and telecommunications infrastructure network. Currently, inadequate and costly infrastructure is adversely impacting the efficiency of business operations in the Sunshine State,” he said.

Infrastructure Australia estimated that if inadequate transport networks in Queensland were not addressed the macro-economic cost would be in excess of $9 billion by 2031.

“An investment in infrastructure represents an investment in the future prosperity of Queensland,” Mr Behrens said.

Infrastructure Australia estimated that infrastructure provided a $33.9 billion dollar economic contribution to Queensland with this forecast to grow to $71.2 billion over the next 20 years.

The plan outlines a total of 78 recommendations for reform, with key investments recommended in the list including:

•           All governments should transfer their remaining publicly-owned electricity generation, network and retail businesses to private ownership.

•           Greater private sector involvement in infrastructure services to improve the efficiency of Australia’s infrastructure and support productivity growth;

•           The Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast have been earmarked as needing support by governments, businesses and local communities to grow their populations and economies;

•           Implement a sustainable model for safe drinking water in regional communities including privatising water where commercially-viable;

•           Remove all existing registration and usage charges for heavy vehicles under the PayGo model and commit to full implementation of a heavy vehicle road charging structure in the next five years;

•           Plans to remove all existing taxes such as registration and fuel excise for light vehicles and commit to full implementation of a light vehicle road charging structure in the next 10 years;

•           Accelerate the delivery of higher density development in Brisbane’s urban areas;

•           Recycling appropriate publicly-owned assets to fund investments in productive infrastructure, and consider broader applications of incentive payments to advance reform; and

•           Governments should develop coordinated strategies with remote communities to remove barriers and maximise the benefits of the National Broadband Network and the opportunities it enables for households and businesses.

“Businesses will now anticipate announcements regarding the financial commitment on infrastructure projects and initiatives which were recommended in the Infrastructure Plan and Priority List,” he said.

“A detailed funding outline is critical in the implementation of the 15-year plan and is expected to commence the surge in business investment.”

Mr Behrens said the Infrastructure Priority List further strengthened the reforms outlined in the Infrastructure Plan.

“No priority projects were announced specifically for Queensland although there were 12 priority initiatives identified as having nationally significant need,” he said.

“These initiatives require further development and rigorous assessment to determine and evaluate the most appropriate option for delivery.”

Queensland initiatives on the Infrastructure Priority List:

High Priority Initiatives:

  • Increase Brisbane CBD public transport capacity (Cross River Rail) [Business Case Development]
  • Increase the Southern Brisbane (Ipswich Motorway) network capacity [Business Case Development]
  • Freight rail access to Port of Brisbane [Options Assessment]

Priority Initiatives:

  • Gold Coast Light Rail – Stage 2 [Business Case Development]
  • M1 Pacific Motorway – Gateway Motorway merge upgrade [Business Case Development]
  • M1 Pacific Motorway upgrade – Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes [Business Case Development]
  • Bruce Highway upgrade (various stages)
  • Beerburrum to Nambour rail upgrade [Business Case Development]
  • Gladstone Port land and sea access upgrade [Options Assessment]
  • Mount Isa – Townsville rail corridor upgrade [Business Case Development]
  • Cunningham Highway – Yamanto to Ebeneezer/Amberley upgrade [Business Case Development]
  • Lower Fitzroy River water infrastructure for opportunities to develop industry and agriculture in Fitzroy region [Options Assessment]

“While the plan is expected to create a wave of optimism, a number of other infrastructure projects were flagged by businesses as being of high importance,” Mr Behrens said.

“It is important that Queensland’s infrastructure networks are the enablers of future economic growth by driving ongoing private business investment and expansion into regional areas; enhancing the competitiveness of business in both domestic and global marketplaces. This will allow for the future prosperity for all Queensland communities.”

The full report of the Australian Infrastructure Plan can be found here.

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