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On the fast track: Qld's wish-list of projects to spur economy


Hard-hit regions and struggling industries may benefit from fast-tracked capital works projects designed to support Queensland’s economic recovery.

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The Palaszczuk government, councils and other groups have given the Morrison government various lists of projects for possible stimulus funding. These include major transport and mass transit projects under the South East Queensland City Deal, which was already under negotiation.

The SEQ Council of Mayors, which recently welcomed the Gold Coast back into the organisation, has also been seeking an infrastructure commitment to support the region’s proposed 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid.  Its wishlist includes faster rail on the northern, southern and western corridors, and a new rail line and motorway on the preserved North West Transport Corridor in Brisbane.

Treasurer Jackie Trad said she had raised the need for more federal funding for infrastructure and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had discussed the issue in National Cabinet.

“The Feds are as deeply interested in this as we are,” Trad told InQueensland.

Construction, she said, had been largely unaffected by the pandemic and economic crisis, with new workplace, health and safety arrangements to protect workers and visitors on site. The key will be timing, and being able to identify the projects best able to be supported and more likely to have flow-on benefits.

The Queensland and federal governments have already agreed to fast-track 22 jointly-funded regional roads projects worth $185 million, however both are being asked to outlay much more.

Queensland faces an economic hit of more than $10 billion, the budget will lose more than $4 billion in revenue, and debt levels may drift beyond $100 billion.

The Queensland government traditionally borrows to fund infrastructure, and in recent years Labor has struggled to honour a commitment to pay down debt. Trad confirmed Queensland was interested in the possibility of the Federal Government also facilitating access to cheaper loans, and said the states’ Board of Treasurers had raised it with National Cabinet.

“Whether or not the Federal Government come at this is another matter,” she said.

Trad said some support measures, for example the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payments, would eventually end, and Queensland needed to ease the transition to a new normal.

Brisbane City Council has put up a list of roads, bridges, boardwalks and ferry terminals for possible federal investment. After the council election, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner told InQueensland the list covered “everything from accelerating a road resurfacing project to more major projects and infrastructure”.

“All of them would be very welcome,” Schrinner said at the time.

It is unclear when the federal government will make a decision on fast-tracking and funding capital works, however the federal budget has been put back to October 6.

The council’s Brisbane Metro project is under construction but already over budget, while work continues on the Palaszczuk government’s Cross River Rail project which the state has vowed to fully fund. The Government and councils want to build on the likely success of this infrastructure.

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