Australia: A Bill to introduce the Building Queensland statutory body

Last Updated: 2 June 2015
Article by Suzy Cairney

Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016

On the 19th of May the Building Queensland Bill 2015 (Qld) (the Bill) was introduced in response to the Queensland Government's election promise to create a new statutory body that ensures that Queensland delivers projects that provides the greatest value and community benefits to the State. As many in the industry expected, the Bill sets out the broad framework for the new entity, without giving much detail.

Explained in its second reading, the Bill provides for the establishment of Building Queensland, an independent statutory body to ensure a 'whole-of-government' perspective to major infrastructure planning, prioritisation and investment.

In order to meet this objective, the Bill empowers Building Queensland with seven key functions.

Provide independent expert advice to the Queensland Government about infrastructure in Queensland

Building Queensland will independently assess and provide expert advice on infrastructure projects through rigorous business case development. It will advise the Government on:

  • current and future needs and priorities
  • policies, pricing and regulatory issues
  • impediments to the efficient use of infrastructure
  • options and reforms to make infrastructure more efficient
  • national and international emerging trends, including trends about procurement and project finance
  • the needs of users
  • advice about the procurement or delivery of a project which may include an evaluation of the delivery against any targets or relevant assumptions
  • the delivery of a project.

The advice will be made with rigorous analysis taking into account:

  • forecast growth, economic, social and environmental sustainability
  • cost benefit analysis
  • community benefits, including social return on investment.

Building Queensland may also provide advice to stakeholders (eg private investors).

Develop a robust and transparent framework for assessing costs and benefits of infrastructure process

Building Queensland must develop a framework to be used across government to develop a consistent 'whole-of government' approach to developing and progressing infrastructure proposals and projects. While the details of this framework are not entirely clear, the explanatory memorandum envisages that it will be consistent with other infrastructure policies that are administered by the State Government.

Evaluate proposals about infrastructure

Building Queensland is empowered to evaluate proposals for investment in or enhancements to infrastructure. The Bill requires Building Queensland, on a half yearly basis, to make and approve a summary of each proposal and provide a summary to the Minister to publish on the Building Queensland's website.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Bill does not identify how the proposals will be evaluated and from whom the proposals will come.

Prepare business cases for infrastructure proposals

Building Queensland will be required to be involved in the preparation of business cases for infrastructure projects. Its degree of involvement will be dependent on the expected capital cost of the infrastructure proposal, or the net present value (NPV) of 'financial commitments' entered by the State.

Expected capital cost of projects or

NPV of financial commitments

  Building Queensland's preparation and involvement

  • Capital costs of less than 50 million; or
  • NPV of financial commitments less than 50 million.
  • The bill is silent - it is expected that relevant government agencies will manage these projects unless otherwise directed by the Minister.
  • Capital costs between 50 million and 100 million; or 
  • NPV of financial commitments between 50 million and 100 million
  • Building Queensland will  assist during the preparation of business cases for infrastructure proposals.  What this assistance might look like is not clear.
  • Capital costs over 100 million; or 
  • NPV of financial commitments over 100 million.
  • Building Queensland will  lead the preparation of the business case for infrastructure proposals.  It is not clear how it will deal with the relevant line agencies however
  • Building Queensland will provide to the Minister the details of expected productivity gains from the proposal, the time-frames for delivery and a cost benefit analysis.

Prepare an infrastructure pipeline document

Building Queensland will prepare and maintain a document that records proposals or projects that it considers should be a priority that will deliver a productivity boost and/or economic return to the State. The pipeline document will include the stage of development of the proposal or project and an estimated cost to deliver the proposal or project. Building Queensland must update these documents and provide a copy to the Minister every 6 months.

Lead the procurement or delivery of particular infrastructure projects

If directed by the Minister (and it is not clear in what circumstances this might occur), Building Queensland must lead the procurement or delivery of a particular infrastructure project. Where this happens, it will work co-operatively with a government agency or a specified delivery area (eg Department of Transport and Main Roads), drawing on the resources and expertise of these relevant government agencies. Again, what this co-operation may involve is not specified.

Publish information and promote public awareness

Building Queensland will publish a summary of the cost benefit analysis or any information relevant to its functions on its website.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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