On 19 May 2015, the Building Queensland Bill 2015 (Qld) (Bill) was introduced to the Queensland Parliament. The Bill establishes Building Queensland, a new independent statutory body to assist the Queensland Government and its agencies to assess proposed infrastructure projects. When passed, Building Queensland will:
- provide independent expert advice to the Queensland Government and government agencies about infrastructure;
- develop a framework for assessing infrastructure projects;
- evaluate new and existing infrastructure proposals;
- assist or lead the preparation of business cases;
- prepare and maintain an infrastructure ‘pipeline’ document;
- lead the procurement or delivery of particular infrastructure projects; and
- publish information and promote public awareness.
Building Queensland’s functions
Building Queensland will provide infrastructure advice on a range of matters including:
- current and future needs and priorities;
- policy, pricing and regulatory issues;
- impediments to the efficient use of infrastructure; and
- emerging national and international trends.
In formulating its advice, Building Queensland will consider forecast growth, economic, social and environmental sustainability, cost benefit analyses and community benefits.
Evaluation of proposals
Building Queensland may evaluate proposals for investment in new infrastructure or enhancements to existing infrastructure. Every 6 months, Building Queensland will give the Minister a summary of each infrastructure proposal it has evaluated during the 6 month period. This summary will be published on Building Queensland’s website.
Building Queensland will be involved in the preparation of business cases for infrastructure proposals. Building Queensland will:
- assist in the preparation of the business case where the capital cost or net present value of the financial commitment entered into by the State is more than $50 million but less than $100 million; and
- lead the preparation of the business case where the capital cost or net present value of the financial commitment entered into by the State is $100 million or more.
Building Queensland will assist or lead the preparation of a business case when directed by the Minister. Building Queensland will publish a summary of the cost-benefit analysis of each business case it leads.
Infrastructure pipeline document
Building Queensland will maintain an infrastructure pipeline document to show the stage of development and an estimate of the cost of each infrastructure proposal or infrastructure proposal Building Queensland considers a priority for the State.
Lead procurement or delivery of particular infrastructure projects
Building Queensland will lead the procurement or delivery of an infrastructure project where directed to do so by the relevant Minister.
Private infrastructure projects
Building Queensland may advise a private stakeholder if the stakeholder has an interest in a project seeking State government investment. Building Queensland and/or the Government agency will liaise with the Queensland Treasury when private finance options are to be considered as part of a business case for an infrastructure proposal. Queensland Treasury will be responsible for the procurement of privately financed infrastructure projects.
It appears that the principle functions of Building Queensland will be to assess and assist Government infrastructure proposals. The extent of involvement in purely private infrastructure projects is not clear at this point. Hopefully this will be resolved at the deliberations of the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee (the Committee) which is now considering the Bill.
What happens next?
The Bill has been referred to the Committee. A public hearing will take place on 17 August 2015. The Committee is to table a report in the Queensland Parliament on 1 September 2015.