Queensland joins other states in Budget roads focus

State government claims record spend for a second year

Queensland joins other states in Budget roads focus
The cover of Budget Paper No. 4


The Queensland Transport Association (QTA) has given the state Budget the thumbs up for its focus on roads.

The state government says Budget initiatives represent a record road spend for the second year in a row and the focus on roads echoes Budget messages in other states, particularly New South Wales and Western Australia, along with the Northern Territory.

"The QTA is pleased that road infrastructure and infrastructure projects are continuing to be supported," CEO Gary Mahon says.  

"These investments not only increase productivity but also in safety and economic growth.  

"However, we have not seen any change to payroll tax nor any significant commitments to a reduction in red tape.  

"Red tape reduction will give us greater agility in the adoption of innovation and efficiency measures, vehicle design and wider utility of infrastructure."

The government noted the following as road-spend highlights:

  • Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Program (QTRIP) – approximately $21 billion over four years ($4.32 billion for 2017-18)
  • Bruce Highway Upgrades –$5.59 billion over four years in joint funding ($510.5 million for 2017-18)
  • Targeted road safety programs – $538 million over four years ($127.7 million for 2017-18)

The 2017-18QTRIP major projects are:

  • $252.5 million towards the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, totalling $1.606 billion
  • $236.3 million towards the Gateway Motorway North six laning, totalling $1.143 billion
  • $233.5 million to deliver Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2, totalling $420 million
  • $120 million to duplicate Bruce Highway between Caloundra Road and Sunshine Motorway, totalling $929.3 million
  • $105 million to undertake restoration works under Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements
  • $70 million towards construction of Mackay Ring Road (Stage 1), total estimated $497.8 million
  • $39.7 million to complete upgrading of various Gold Coast roads in preparation for Commonwealth Games, totalling $160.7 million
  • $44.4 million to duplicate the Warrego Highway, Charlton to Kingsthorpe, totalling $160 million
  • $36 million to construct additional lanes on Stage 1 of the Ipswich Motorway between Rocklea to Darra, totalling $400 million
  • $5 million towards duplicating the Capricorn Highway between Rockhampton and Gracemere, totalling $75 million
  • $18.6 million to construction additional lanes on the Pacific Motorway between Mudgeeraba and Varsity Lakes
  • $10 million to upgrade the Pacific Motorway/Gateway Motorway merge
  • $16 million to seal sections of the Kennedy Developmental Road between Hughenden and The Lynd, totalling $50 million
  • $16.3 million to replace the bridge and approaches for flood immunity at Cape River on the Gregory Developmental Road, totally $34.6 million
  • $16.8 million to replace timber bridges on the Dawson Highway, totalling $40 million under our State Infrastructure Fund
  • $39.1 million to continue upgrades to Peninsula Developmental Road as part of the $260.5 million Cape York Regional Package
  • $14.4 million upgrade of the Helensvale Bus Facility
  • $500,000 to continue preliminary design of the $150 million Walkerston Bypass, on the Peak Downs Highway west of Mackay
  • $4 million towards the $20 million Mount Lindesay Highway upgrades between Browns Plains and Beaudesert, with a further $20 million state funding committed to widen the highway to four lanes between Rosia Road and Stoney Camp Road in QTRIP.

"With the significant impacts from Cyclone Debbie felt earlier this year, funding of $105 million has been allocated in 2017-18 to undertake restoration works to the transport network across Queensland," main roads mininster Mark Bailey says.

"We continue to support the Northern Australian Roads Programme and Northern Australia Beefs Roads Programme to deliver high priority projects to support the economic development in Northern Queensland.

"This is on top of funding for Mackay Ring Road (Stage 1), realignment of the Peak Downs Highway at Eton Range, and upgrading of timber bridges on the Dawson Highway.

"The Palaszczuk government is also continuing to provide a boost to local governments and confidence to plan infrastructure that sustains local employment, with a commitment of $280 million over four years to the 50:50 state/local government Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme."

On the small business side, last year’s Advancing Small Business Queensland Strategy gains $22.7 million from the $420 million Advance Queensland budget.

Employment and industrial relations minister Grace Grace also announced the Back to Work program available in regional Queensland will, from July 1, be extended to employers who take on a long-term unemployed or a young unemployed jobseeker aged 15-24 years in the state’s south east.

"This means employers will soon be eligible for payments of up to $20,000 for taking on a new worker in South East Queensland, which is a great incentive for businesses to hire a jobseeker," Grace says.

"WorkCover Queensland’s premium and benefits package for 2017-18 is also attractive for small business owners.

"Queensland employers will benefit from the certainty of maintaining lowest average premium rates in the country at $1.20, as well as an increase in the early payment discount from 3 per cent to 5 per cent.

"For small businesses with between five and 20 workers, this discount could deliver cost savings of more than $1,000 a year.

"Additionally, employers who contribute to skilling young Queenslanders can deduct the wages of each apprentice or trainee from their premium calculation for the life of the apprenticeship or traineeship.

"This measure would mean cost savings of up to $5,800 a year for small businesses that employ between five and 20 workers."

Meanwhile, the government has plans to upgrade port infrastructure in the state’s north.

Port of Townsville will reinvest $13 million of its 2016-17 earnings to contribute to the channel widening project, which will allow larger ships to access the port with the government to commit a further $62 million to this project.

"The government will work with Port of Townsville on additional funding opportunities to progress this important economic development project," the Budget papers state.

"Together with work on streamlining the supply chain, this channel widening will position Port of Townsville as a hub for trade between north Queensland and the rest of the world, and an alternative to Port of Brisbane."

Though more for naval and cruise purposes than freight, the government will contribute $60 million over two years from 2018-19 to widen and deepen the Trinity Inlet Channel and swing basin at the Port of Cairns.

The project has an estimated cost of $120 million and will be subject to an environmental impact statement and business case approval.

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