The Queensland Government has beefed up its State Infrastructure Fund by $1.5 billion, taking it to $2 billion over five years.
Deputy Premier and Infrastructure Minister Jackie Trad said the Budget funding would drive key initiatives including $50 million to establish the new Cross River Rail Delivery Authority and commence early works and $180 million to bring forward social and economic projects in regional communities.
“Building on our ongoing capital program of $40.8 billion over four years our State Infrastructure Fund, with this initial investment of $2 billion, will continue our momentum to deliver our State Infrastructure Plan and the projects we know Queensland needs now,” Ms Trad said.
“This significant new investment is about setting aside funding for projects to be identified by our independent infrastructure advisor, Building Queensland, as well as ensuring we can bring forward projects that will create jobs, economic growth and investor confidence across our state, especially in our regional communities.
“In particular, I’m pleased to announce more than 25 projects in regional Queensland have been allocated funding through the State Infrastructure Fund’s $180 million Significant Regional Infrastructure Projects Program (SRIPP), which is expected to support more than 280 regional jobs.”
Regional projects earmarked for funding
Ms Trad said the range of projects allocated SRIPP funding included:
- Cairns Western Arterial Road: Bill Fulton Bridge (Freshwater Creek) duplication – $34. 2 million
- Renewal of school facilities in Central Queensland – $26.4 million
- Regional Education Infrastructure Enhancements – $21.3 million
- Social housing Toowoomba, Townsville & Rockhampton – $14.2 million
- Step Up/Step Down Mental Health Units Mackay, Bundaberg & Gladstone – $12 million
- Police and Fire Station at Howard – $10 million
- Mon Repos Turtle Centre Redevelopment – $10 million
- New Palm Island Primary Health Care – $8.5 million
- Townsville Hospital Paediatrics Unit Upgrade & Expansion – $6.6 million
- Mackay – Replacement fire station and support facilities – $7.5 million
- Digital Electricity Meters for Low Income Regional Residents – $5.5 million
- McKinlay Multi-purpose Health Service refurbishment and expansion – $5 million
Ms Trad said the Fund would also continue to support ongoing programs including the $300 million Priority Economic Works and Productivity Program and the $20 million Maturing the Infrastructure Pipeline Program.
“The remaining $1.45 billion investment into the Fund will be used to progress priority, shovel-ready projects, including those identified by Building Queensland through its Infrastructure Pipeline.
“The Government will consider investment in projects identified through the pipeline, following the completion of relevant business cases and based on Building Queensland’s independent advice.”
Opposition highlights spending cuts
The State Opposition says the 2016-17 Budget has slashed capital works investment across Queensland.
Opposition spokeswoman for Infrastructure and State Development Deb Frecklington said capital purchases had been cut by $2.3 billion under Labor when compared to the LNP’s last budget update.
“Under the Palaszczuk Labor Government, Queensland’s infrastructure spend is forecast to decline to its lowest level ever level as a percentage of the state’s economy,” Ms Frecklington said.
“The Treasurer promised regional Queensland would be a focus, yet he’s cut spending in major centres like Wide Bay, Toowoomba, Mackay, Cairns and Townsville.”
She said compared to the LNP’s last budget infrastructure spending in Toowoomba was down by more than $220 million, for example, and infrastructure spending in Mackay was down $80 million. In Cairns it was down $120 million and Townsville had seen its infrastructure spend slashed by $180 million
Ms Frecklington said total infrastructure spend across the state was almost $800 million lower in the 2016-17 Budget than under the LNP’s last budget.
More details needed on unallocated cash pool
Townsville Enterprise welcomed the release of the 2016-17 Budget, saying it would help kick-start new industries and new jobs for the region and to focus on its growth sectors.
Chief executive officer Patricia O’Callaghan said the government’s focus on reducing regional Queensland’s unemployment rate and on boosting the tourism, resources, agriculture, construction and international education sectors, was a welcome development for North Queensland.
In the area of infrastructure funding, Ms O’Callaghan expressed cautious optimism.
“We are pleased that the State Government has increased its commitment to the Integrated Stadium and Entertainment Centre to $140 million, and welcome the $1.5 billion funding boost to the State Infrastructure Fund, noting that $1.45 billion of this remains unallocated,” she said.
“Townsville Enterprise will seek to meet with our State representatives and Building Queensland to ensure Townsville North Queensland’s priority infrastructure projects are progressed under this fund.
“A priority for Townsville North Queensland continues to be $150 million for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor. This project is critical to unlocking the trade and export capacity of the Port of Townsville, establishing Townsville as Northern Australia’s major transport and logistics hub and delivering around 300 jobs in the construction phase alone.
“We will also be seeking funding for projects that guarantee Townsville North Queensland’s future water security once the federally funded feasibility work into raising the Burdekin Dam Wall and constructing a new dam at Hells Gate concludes.”
To see the full budget papers click here.