QLD BUDGET 08/09: Infrastructure spend increase for new projects: Bligh

By: Troy Bilsborough


The Queensland Government will increase State infrastructure spend to $17 billion in 2008-09, although has denied it is the result

The Queensland Government will increase State infrastructure spend to $17 billion in 2008-09, although has denied it is the result of cost blow-outs.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser today today announced a $3 billion boost to funding, a 21 percent increase on last year’s budget.

It is expected to tackle issues with roads, dams, schools, housing, health and drought-proofing of the State’s water supply.

It is a necessary move for the Government, with the State’s population growing on average 2.3 percent over the past five years – twice the national rate – and forecast to continue along this line.

"Queensland is growing – and fast. Our population is growing and our economy is growing at rates which outpace the nation," says Fraser.

The State Government will also receive a boost from the private sector, with the volume of business investment estimated to rise over 9 percent in 2008-09 to $36 billion.

In real terms, this represents a doubling of private spend in the last six years.

Premier Anna Bligh however denied the increase was needed to service cost blowouts reportedly linked with current State Government projects, saying it is rather a sign of her government’s plans ‘focus’ on infrastructure.

"The increase has come about as we have implemented 60 new projects, as well as increased the scope of a number of current projects," she said.

Projects include the $537.6 million Gateway Bridge Duplication and upgrade, $576.4 million on additional track works on the coal rail network in Central Queensland, $795 million to complete the $2.5 billion Western Corridor Recycled Water Project, and $3.1 billion by Queensland Energy Government-owned Corporations (GOC) to build new capacity in the State’s electricity grid, reinforce the network and support generation capacity.

Fraser has conceded, however, that with unemployment sitting below four percent that will be significant capacity constraints facing the projects, which may see cost and completion forecasts blow-out.

"We continue to have the lowest unemployment in Australia and as a result we are facing significant capacity constraints which are affecting the State’s ability to competitively tender."

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