Mar 25, 2020

A dozer-led virus challenge

A dozer-led virus challenge

The best way to address the fallout of COVID-19 is with a dozer blade according to the North Queensland Civil Construction Association (NQCCA).

There were shovel-ready projects ready to absorb labour, build infrastructure and boost the economy said NQCCA President Phil Cassell.

Federally funded project priorities in Queensland include:

  • Cairns Southern Access Corridor – $180m
  • Cairns ring road – $287m
  • Cooktown to Weipa – $190 million
  • Townsville Ring road stage five – $144m
  • Townsville to Rockhampton – $254m
  • Tennant Creek to Townville – $200m

But the majority of the $2.6 billion road funding would not be spent until 2024, said Mr Cassell.

“Nothing is spent for the first two years,” he said. “In 2020/21 only $5m of the $2.6b is committed with $105m in 2021/22 and $203m in 2022/23. The rest is spent in 2024, five years after it was announced.

“Civil construction in the area above Mackay accounts for more than 4200 jobs with a flow on effect of 11,500 jobs and a total contribution to the gross regional product of $1.8 billion,*” he said.

“Civil contracts are the ideal business primer. Our plant uses plenty of consumables including parts and fuel, the operators are isolated in their cabins and the money spent in local communities.

“We’ve long argued that we are competitive to southern firms in both capacity and capability but have long been kept off the preferred tenderers lists. Awarding the work locally keeps the benefits local, including training and skills retention.”

The NQCCA called on state and federal governments to work together, said Mr Cassell.

“Projects are funded 80:20 federal to state. But state and federal budgets priorities don’t align which means the projects get kicked down the road resulting in constant disappointment for contractors.

“Many major nation-building programs were completed in the 1930s in response to the depression.

“Civil contractors locally can handle the workload and it would be a great way of building infrastructure and resilience into the economy during this challenging time.”