Freight Rail, Passenger Rail

Queensland politics harming industry confidence

Queens Wharf development. Graphic: Destination Brisbane Consortium

A new survey report from the Infrastructure Association of Queensland (IAQ), the state’s peak representative industry body, indicates that confidence in the sector’s growth is being hampered by Queensland’s political instability.

Results from IAQ’s inaugural Spotlight survey, which collected the views of IAQ members and other infrastructure industry organisations, show that 80% of respondents considered the lack of certainty around government spending promises on major infrastructure projects a major concern.

“The main factors weighing down on confidence is uncertainty of the state election outcome and the ability of the incoming government to work constructively with the federal government, avoid project and policy backflips on high-profile projects like Cross River Rail and Adani, and approve greater numbers of market-led proposals,” the IAQ report explains.

The vulnerability of the Cross River Rail project to alterations in the political sphere, in particular, was a major source of concern of the IAQ members, with two-thirds indicating that they would tender for work on the project – around half of whom consider the project to significantly boost their business revenue and earnings.

In addition, almost all of the survey’s respondents thought it highly important for election time infrastructure spending commitments to be made on major projects with business cases or those listed on Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List or in the BQ Pipeline.

“As they are the decision makers on a project proceeding or not,” one respondent said, “politicians need to say up front what they plan to do if they are elected. Indecision causes disinvestment.”

Nonetheless, some respondents considered projects not included on these lists to be of significant importance, including the mooted dedicated freight line between the Port of Brisbane and Inland Rail, the expansion of the Inland Rail Townsville and across Darwin, and light rail through Brisbane growing suburbs that won’t directly benefit from the Cross River Rail project.

One respondent, for instance, said that it was “important that [projects] have a business case, but not important that they be on the BQ Pipeline or IA Priority List. Those bodies don’t have a mortgage on good ideas”.