Bligh unveils blueprint to take Gladstone forward

The Bligh Government has released an expansive infrastructure strategy for the Port of Gladstone

By Brad Gardner | March 31, 2010

The Bligh Government has released an expansive infrastructure strategy for the Port of Gladstone in northern Queensland, but there is no promise the funds will be there to deliver the goods.

The Port of Gladstone Western Basin Master Plan blueprint is designed to oversee development of the port in the Western Basin until 2039.

It includes a plan for infrastructure corridors from Curtis Island to Fisherman’s Landing and from Laird Point to Hamilton Point.

Queensland’s coordinator-general will also seek a corridor through the Gladstone State Development Area and across to Curtis Island.

The master plan says dredging will be necessary because current channels are not deep enough for larger ships expected to be using the port.

Despite being touted as a comprehensive plan, it does not look at funding models to make the proposals a reality. It will instead rely on working out the financial details when the projects are assessed.

"The master plan does not seek to determine the final contribution mechanism or specific policy on how infrastructure is to be funded," the plan reads.

"Rather, it recognises the need for all authorities to seek or reclaim costs occurred in facilitating infrastructure for the benefits of developments in the Western Basin."

Premier Anna Bligh says the plan is essential for good growth and management in the region.

"The Port of Gladstone is one of the largest natural resource exporting facilities on the eastern seaboard and one of three major ports in Queensland," Bligh says.

"This makes the port a strategic asset, a key driver for the state's economic prosperity and a major contributor to the Australian economy."

A key economic driver of the port is the LNG industry and the plan looks at pipeline corridors it says is essential to help it grow.

The coordinator-general is currently assessing two pipelines, but the plan states that future applications to lay pipes will need to explain how proponents will install the equipment to minimise the impact on the environment.

Bligh says the recent $60 billion LNG agreement signed last week between the China National Offshore Corporation and the BG Group is a sign of the potential opportunities and challenges facing Gladstone.

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