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24 Oct 2013

Planes, trains and automobiles - Queensland's strategies for infrastructure

by Kathryn Pacey, Ian Motti

The Queensland Government hopes the Infrastructure for Economic Development blueprint, draft Queensland Ports Strategy, and the Economic Directions Statement, Queensland Airports, will boost infrastructure investment and development.

This month the Queensland Government released a number of strategy documents aimed at improving infrastructure management, development and investment across the State. These include: 

  • the Infrastructure for Economic Development blueprint;
  • the draft Queensland Ports Strategy; and
  • the Economic Directions Statement, Queensland Airports (Queensland Airports Strategy).

In this article we briefly examine the purpose and key objectives of each strategy.

Infrastructure for Economic Development

The Infrastructure for Economic Development (IFED) was released on 16 October 2013.

The IFED is part of the State's broader economic framework, and provides a blueprint for large-scale reform to planning, prioritising, funding, delivery and maintenance of economic infrastructure in Queensland.

Economic infrastructure covered by the IFED includes physical assets (road, rail water and power infrastructure) that provide a framework to enable economic activity.

The IFED outlines the work undertaken by the State towards establishing an Economic Infrastructure Prioritisation Framework which will be used by the Property and Infrastructure Cabinet Committee and other State agencies to prioritise projects that will drive economic development in Queensland.

The Committee's roles include:

  • developing an agreed portfolio of priority infrastructure projects from a whole-of-government perspective;
  • overseeing development of a 10 year infrastructure plan in accordance with the State's response to the Independent Commission of Audit Final Report;
  • driving reforms to the State's infrastructure networks, assets and investments to deliver increased benefits and value for money.

The IFED recognises that the private sector is the main driver of economic growth through financing, delivering and operating economic infrastructure, while the State shapes the Queensland economy through setting the framework conditions.

Draft Queensland Ports Strategy

The draft Queensland Ports Strategy was released for public comment on 17 October 2013.

The draft Strategy is aimed at providing a blueprint for managing and improving the efficiency and environmental management of the State's port network over the coming decade.

The key actions outlined in the draft Strategy include:

  • the creation of five Priority Port Development Areas (PPDAs) at Brisbane, Gladstone, Hay Point/Mackay, Abbot Point and Townsville, in which accelerated development will be encouraged and facilitated;
  • the prohibition on capital dredging for development of deep water port facilities outside of the established PPDAs until 2024, which is consistent with the recommendations by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for the government to restrict port development outside the long-established major ports within or adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area; and
  • the development of a statutory master plan guideline for use by the established PPDAs.

Through PPDAs the State aims to protect land for port developments, reduce land use tension and streamline approval processes for port developments.

New legislation will be required in order for the State to implement the above key actions. It is intended that the new legislation will enable broader system reforms to be made to port planning, development and management in Queensland.

The Draft Strategy is open for public comment until 13 December 2013.

Queensland Airports Strategy

The Queensland Airports Strategy (QAS) was released on 16 October 2013.

The QAS is aimed at guiding the State's planning regulation and economic development initiatives that drive airport expansion and employment in Queensland.

Under the QAS, 40 metropolitan and regional airports are considered to be of strategic economic importance to Queensland, including Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and the Sunshine Coast. The QAS also provides that new airports are proposed to support growth in the resources sector in Toowoomba and the Galilee Basin.

The QAS identifies a number of strategic principles for future action by the State, as well as a number of priority actions, including:

  • providing advice to airport owners, managers and operators on master planning, approval processes and expansion projects;
  • developing consistent and evidence-based vegetation management policies and processes on land on, or nearby airports;
  • developing tenure arrangements for state reserve leasehold land on, and nearby airports that support economic development;
  • working with local authorities to address blockages to growth and ensuring effective co-existence with local communities and industries;
  • providing advice on relevant State government funding programs that may support airport development; and
  • facilitating planning approval processes consistent with the State Planning Policy, to accelerate the development of maintenance, aviation industry and passenger infrastructure.

In line with the QAS, the Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, has also announced that the State Government is supporting the expansion of the Sunshine Coast airport, including:

  • provision of three parcels of land, at no cost, to the Sunshine Coast Regional Council needed for the expansion project; and 
  • amending the "State Planning Regulation to exclude infrastructure on airports, and ancillary works from any development assessment referral under the Vegetation Management Act". In this regard, amendments to the Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009 commenced on 2 August 2013.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.