Queensland Pours Billions into Building

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Queensland will inject billions of dollars into civil infrastructure and commercial buildings as the state increases efforts to stimulate a post-COVID economic recovery.

State Treasurer Cameron Dick has announced details of the Queensland Government’s $13.9 billion capital works program for 2020-21.

The spending is part of a $51.8 billion program of capital works over four years.

A critical part of the program includes a $6.1 billion investment in transport infrastructure.

This will go toward projects such as the Ports of Gladstone and Townsville, Cross River Rail, Bruce Highway, Pacific and Ipswich motorways and a wide range of regional roads.

Healthcare is also a major area with money for projects such as the $70 million redevelopment of Cairns Hospital and mental health facilities.

Other investments include:

  • Over $16 million for new ambulance stations at Ormeau, Yarrabilba, Munruben and Urraween
  • a new QCN Fibre partnership with Toowoomba’s Pulse Data Centre to provide better internet for thousands of Darling Downs businesses
  • $20 million towards the new Queensland Apprenticeships Centre at Beenleigh delivering training for high demand industries including renewable hydrogen
  • $3.4 million towards collaborative projects with Balonne, Bulloo, Maranoa, Murweh and Paroo councils to enhance digital connectivity, and
  • investment in public safety such as $16.9 million for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ regional headquarters at Charlton, near Toowoomba, and the $52.2 million Wacol Counter-Terrorism and Community Training Centre, as well as new and upgraded fire and police stations around the state.

In a statement, Dick said the program built upon existing support for building and construction sector, which can also be seen through initiatives such as the:

  • $51.8 billion Infrastructure Guarantee
  • $200 million Building Acceleration Fund
  • $50 million SEQ community stimulus program
  • $400 million Accelerated Works Program
  • $200 million Works for Queensland COVID-19 Recovery Package
  • $100 million Housing Construction – Works for Tradies, and
  • reducing red tape and streamlining planning approvals for construction

“This Government is focused on getting our state’s economy back on its feet and building a stronger and more resilient economy,” he said.

“Working in partnership with the private sector to invest and build vital infrastructure strengthening industries, supporting jobs and enabling future growth is vital to achieving our goals.”

Master Builders Association of Queensland Deputy CEO Paul Bidwell applauded the program, saying it paid heed not only to civil construction but also provided a welcome boost for commercial builders.

“While many in Queensland’s housing sector are taking advantage of boom times, with demand strong for renovations and also as a direct result of the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant and helped along by the Queensland Government’s $5,000 regional home building boost grant, it’s a very different story for the commercial sector,” Bidwell said.

“Commercial builders and trade contractors are hanging on by their fingernails as building activity drops further each month and predictions become dire. At best, they have a pipeline of work that will just take them into 2021, so this announcement couldn’t have come at a more important time.

“Infrastructure spending is the engine of job creation, but for us to see the job creation quickly and flow on effects of this spending within the community, more of the budget should be spent on new public buildings rather than roads and rail.

“Money spent on new buildings creates jobs immediately in construction, while the job creation benefit associated with civil infrastructure comes from the economic growth down the track.

“Over the past couple of years there has been a skew towards civil projects, which we’re hoping to see corrected this time around.

“We’re also hoping that this is the first of many announcements relating to funding of government building projects.”

Bidwell says the program’s announcement represented the first-time which industry had a comprehensive view of the capital works program for the coming year.

He says the program’s release provides the industry with visibility about the pipeline of work along with certainty about opportunities in the year ahead.

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