Peak industry body pushes for infrastructure spending

Posted November 11, 2015

Robert-Row

(Civil Contractors Federation chief executive Robert Row)

 

Queensland faces a $40 billion shortfall in infrastructure provision because of a growing gap between the state’s transport and construction needs and the funding committed to future projects.

That comes from a Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) report which was supported by the Queensland Infrastructure Alliance.

The report found a gap in the state’s infrastructure needs of about $17 billion, with the figure growing by $6 billion per year.

If not addressed, this deficit was projected to reach $40 billion by 2020, CCF chief executive Robert Row said.

The deficit represented a shortfall in both the new spending and maintenance funding required to meet the needs of the state’s population, Mr Row said.

“This is a problem that began with a sudden halt in spending in 2012,” he said.  “And it underlines the importance of maintaining a regular infrastructure investment plan, to stay on top of the state’s road and utilities needs.

“If we fail to do that, we will not have the facilities such as rail, ports and electricity that we need to keep the economy moving in the future.  And we need to ensure the safety of Queenslanders by providing them safer, smoother and well-maintained roads – particularly in regional areas.”

The Building Our Future report shows a 40 per cent drop in jobs in the infrastructure sector in the last five years – declining from 84,000 to 53,000.

It calls for the Queensland Government to commit to a long-term building program valued at a minimum of seven per cent of Gross State Product.

It had been pleasing to see some more positive communications between the State and Federal Governments in recent weeks, Mr Row said.

“That has already translated into funding for the Gold Coast Light Rail project, and will hopefully result in other projects getting the go ahead in coming months,” he said.

“However, Queenslanders need to understand that these projects all need to be paid for somehow, and we need to have a mature discussion about the best way to do that.

“With both sides of politics in the state having ruled out asset sales, we now need to look for new and innovative ways to pay for the work we need.  This may include smart tolling, private sector partnerships and even targeted borrowing or fundraising.

“We know it’s a difficult conversation, but we need to start having it or we run the risk of the state grinding to a $40 billion halt in just a few years from now.”

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