Call for a more sustainable Queensland projects pipeline

Three of Queensland’s leading industry bodies have released their key annual report, calling for greater collaboration from state and federal governments to accelerate infrastructure projects throughout Queensland in a bid to maintain the state’s current economic momentum.

The 2018 Queensland Major Projects Pipeline -is developed by leading independent firm BIS-Oxford Economics for the Queensland Major Contractors Association (QMCA), the Infrastructure Association of Queensland (IAQ) and Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ).

It details a pipeline of 190 projects with combined expenditure of $39.9 billion over five years and identifies 14 separate initiatives that governments can adopt to boost their funding capability and deliver the infrastructure Queensland requires.

The report identifies that the greatest threats to a sustainable pipeline of projects are the identification of investable projects, availability of funds, and timely investment decisions.

This year’s report highlights much lower levels of private sector investment than previous years, with $9.4 billion of expenditure only ‘prospective’ or ‘unlikely’ to receive funding in the next five years.

According to QMCA’s President, Peter Anusas, the value of committed public sector projects entering the market for tender by contractors now outstrips the private sector by a factor of 6:1, fueled by projects such as Cross River Rail, Bruce and Pacific Highway upgrades and the upcoming ARTC Inland Rail PPP package.

“Whilst the level of public sector investment identified in the report is positive news, there are significant opportunities for project savings and more jobs if some projects identified to start later in the pipeline can be brought forward to flatten out the demand curve,” Mr Anusas said.

According to Mr. Anusas, there are still a significant amount of public and private projects (98) that are awaiting funding commitments.

The funded pipeline for major projects in Queensland is forecast to support 12,700 workers each year on average throughout the state and this increases to an additional 4,700 workers each year on average if the pipeline is fully funded.

“Many of these construction jobs can make a real difference to regional communities who are struggling to adjust after the resources boom,” Mr Anusas said.

IAQ’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Abson, said accelerating government projects through the pipeline required even greater collaboration between the Australian and State Governments.

“With low levels of privately funded projects coming through to market, the ability of governments to identify and deliver on their planned infrastructure is really important to the sector,” said Mr Abson.

“Queensland needs to keep focused on finding good, investable projects so the pipeline doesn’t dry up. When projects already in development are accounted for, Queensland has only 12 out of 96 projects identified for investment on the current National Infrastructure Priority List. This level of projects coming through is two to three times lower than we’d prefer to see.

“Industry encourages the Australian and State governments to align on priorities and give long-term funding certainty for significant roads, rail and water projects that will sustain jobs and provide the priority infrastructure the state needs,” Mr Abson said.

The report notes that without more identified projects and funding commitments, recent growth in activity will stall and could lead to sustained levels of low activity.

“Boom and bust cycles are damaging for industry and lead to loss of value for taxpayers. Reports like this one can assist governments and industry to find the sweet spot where demand for infrastructure is matched by a world-class supply chain and major project capability,” Mr Abson said.

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