Infrastructure cut-backs risk 60,000 Qld jobs: report

Up to 60,000 Queensland jobs could be lost in next three to five years unless Government continues with high level of infrastructure investment

Infrastructure cut-backs risk 60,000 Qld jobs: report
Infrastructure cut-backs risk 60,000 Qld jobs: report

By Jayne Munday | October 6, 2009

Up to 60,000 Queensland jobs could be lost in the next three to five years unless the State Government continues with its high level of infrastructure investment, according to industry.

A review of State infrastructure investment by the Queensland Civil Infrastructure Alliance reveals at least another five years of heavy investment is needed to achieve acceptable levels of key economic infrastructure and avoid a boom-and-bust employment situation.

Alliance spokesperson Paul Clauson says the report - ‘Building Our Future’ - found reduced levels of public capital expenditure beyond 2010 could result in the loss of up to 30,000 jobs in the construction sector and up to 60,000 jobs State-wide.

"The decrease in the public capital investment forecast in the State Budget from around $18 billion in 2009 to $12 billion in 2011 could have a significant impact on jobs across the State," he says.

"The sustainability of the construction industry requires a steady rate of expenditure. A sharp drop in the expenditure will not only result in the loss of jobs and skills, but will also make delivery of increased expenditure in the future less efficient."

Industry research shows public infrastructure investment in Queensland has doubled as a proportion of Gross State Product since 2004.

However, the Building Our Future report found the recent upswing in infrastructure funding has not eliminated the backlog of infrastructure resulting from 20 years of "inadequate investment".

Speaking at the base of Brisbane’s new Kurilpa Bridge today, Clauson says the Alliance commends the State Government’s increase in spending since 2004, but insists now is not the time for cutting back.

"The job is far from finished," he warns.

"As the report details, there is still a long way to go to bring our infrastructure to a desirable standard, and the impacts of cutting back could have significant ramifications for Queenslanders and the sustainability of the industry."

Key areas cited by Clauson as needing serious cash injections include urban rail networks, and major roads such as the Warrego Highway.

"We already have good plans, such as the South East Queensland Plan and Western Transport Plan, but now we need to implement them," he says.

"We have lots of men and resources, so why not start to implement the south-east strategy now?"

Clauson says the alliance considers immediate action crucial to growth.

"Sending resources away them bringing them back at a later date will mean added costs all round," he says.

"We need to continue to drive infrastructure and funding to keep up with the amount of people living and moving to the area."

Ways in which the Government can free up additional money is by seriously looking into public-private partnerships, according to Clauson.

"The idea in Government that there is no appetite for PPPs in the private sector is nonsense. Just look at Victoria and the desalination plant," he says.

"In certain areas this [PPPs] is still a viable alternative to funding."

The inaugural Building Our Future report was undertaken by the then Civil Engineering Construction Alliance, now the Queensland Civil Infrastructure Alliance, in 2004.

It documented a 20-year decline in infrastructure spending in Queensland, and argued for the urgent need to rapidly increase public investment in economic infrastructure.

Clauson says the 2009 report provides an independent measure of the changes that have taken place since 2004.

He says infrastructure needs to be examined closely in the coming years, especially in light of the global financial crisis and its impact on the industry.

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