Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016
Following months of industry consultation, the Queensland
Government has now
released the final version of its
State Infrastructure Plan
(SIP). This is the first plan of
its kind in several years. If it remains fiscally responsible, its
breadth and depth are to be welcomed.
The SIP follows on from the Queensland Government's
commitment to investing $59.35 million in catalyst infrastructure
(such as roads and transport) and comes just weeks after
Infrastructure Australia published the first ever 15-year
Australian Infrastructure Plan.
The SIP is a living document intended to be updated yearly. In
its current form, the SIP puts into place a $35 billion pipeline
for major infrastructure projects across a number of industries
over the next four years, with further projects envisaged over the
medium to long term (a 15-year time frame is indicated). The
aim of the SIP is to provide confidence and certainty to business,
industry and the community, and to provide opportunities for
investors in the private sector to develop innovative
A central plank of the SIP is the State Government's
announcement of the launch of a new Queensland Infrastructure Fund,
with a promised injection of $500 million for investment in
priority infrastructure projects across Queensland. The State
Government will also set up an Infrastructure Portfolio Office
(IPO) to plan and coordinate infrastructure, and
integrate the links between economic, regional and infrastructure
As encouraging as this is, the SIP and how it will be
implemented by the IPO will require further consultation and
planning. Further, the SIP implicitly recognizes that governments
of all levels cannot fund infrastructure projects on the scale that
Queensland needs, and opens up opportunities and challenges for
innovative private sector financing and involvement.
Innovation is a key theme of the Plan, both in terms of
the projects that might be undertaken and the way in which they
might be managed, financed and funded.
The Plan identifies a strong preference for private investors to
put forward and develop innovative market-led proposals. A
revamped, active framework has been established to encourage
market-led proposals to support this.
Value capture and availability-based public private partnerships
are also discussed as being part of the solution to
Queensland's infrastructure challenge, but the innovation
sought goes much further than this. The real issue is for
private sector investors to identify projects and funding and
financing solutions that might give the economy the infrastructure
it needs to grow while still allowing the private sector a
reasonable return on its investment.
Projects outlined in the SIP include more than just traditional
bricks and mortar projects. Squeezing more out of existing
infrastructure through better maintenance or incremental
improvements in operations is a recurrent theme, as is the
potential benefit to be derived from digitalisation.
The Federal government's focus on Northern Australia is also
reflected, with opportunities arising especially in the water,
ports, energy (especially solar) and transport sectors.
The success of the SIP will be measured through its
implementation, especially to the extent that its focus on
innovation results in practical and profitable outcomes. This
"new" model for dealing with Queensland's
infrastructure challenge may only produce the benefits sought if a
new mindset is applied across all governments and at all levels
While it is yet to be seen how the Local, State and Federal
Governments will work together to invest in and implement these
developments, the release of the SIP is a positive step towards
supporting the infrastructure industry and promoting economic
growth for a sustainable future in Queensland.
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for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's
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