David Pearce, Partner based in our Brisbane office (LinkedIn bio), notes that the Queensland Government has released its draft State Infrastructure Plan for consultation.

The draft plan signals a return to the annual publication by Government of its plan and priorities for infrastructure development.

The draft plan summarises what the Government sees as its key infrastructure challenges, and outlines its 'strategic' objectives to meet those challenges. It includes a 1-4 year program of projects 'in development' and a 5-15 year program of 'project opportunities' such as identified infrastructure 'service gaps' which Government wishes to 'close' by working together with the private sector. The draft plan also highlights the role of various Government agencies in infrastructure delivery, and how Government's plans interface with equivalent federal and local government plans.

The draft plan confirms that in the present fiscally constrained environment, Government will be prioritising investment in low cost options that maintain or improve services to Queenslanders, in preference to 'big ticket' infrastructure construction projects that might achieve similar outcomes. Possible examples include giving priority to demand management measures, asset maintenance strategies and upgrades to existing infrastructure.

Government has highlighted five key priorities for future investment:

  • Increasing the capacity and resilience of South East Queensland’s transport system – this has been identified as Queensland's highest priority, with major arterial roads close to capacity and rail upgrades required in the future;
  • Utilising technology to improve Queensland's health care system – Government has signalled that recent major capital investments need to be optimised through better use of technology;
  • Dealing with disruption in the energy sector – Government recognises the fundamental changes that are occurring in the energy sector as a result of technological advances, such as the potential uptake of localised energy storage;
  • Regional connectivity and freight market access – improving our freight network to increase economic growth, and providing regional communities with better connections to services; and
  • Better preservation of public assets – much of the infrastructure that will be used by Queenslanders in the future has already been built, and Government is keen to support initiatives which preserve the state's public asset base.

Government continues to encourage private sector investment and innovation, including through progressive funding and Government's updated framework for supporting 'market led proposals'. Government has specifically invited the private sector to look at the 5-15 year challenges outlined in the draft plan and seek to address them through market led proposals.

Public consultation on the draft plan is open until 4 December 2015. Government intends to release the final plan in early 2016.