Diversification to spur growth in QLD

Economic growth in Queensland will come from further diversification of the state’s industries, Queensland Deputy Premier the Hon. Jackie Trad has told a CEDA audience in Brisbane.

At the Queensland Economic Development Forum, Ms Trad outlined key priorities for QLD as the state’s economy transitions from the end of the mining boom to the “innovation, service-based and advanced manufacturing jobs of the future”.

“Commodity prices are falling, global demand for thermal coal is also falling, and Queensland has now entered the production phase of our new LNG industry after an unprecedented $60 billion construction boom,” Ms Trad said.

“For many Queenslanders, there is no doubt that this is a challenging time, particularly in regional areas that are at the forefront of this transition.

“We know that jobs growth in 20 years will be concentrated in knowledge and service industries… Including opportunities to expand our knowledge-intensive and technology-intensive industries, such a bio-manufacturing and e-Health.

“These new fields have the potential to be significant creators of jobs of the future, as well as becoming leading contributors to the state’s economic growth.”

Ms Trad said that while those industries develop, driven by the Palaszczuk Government’s flagship Advance Queensland innovation program, the government is committed to delivering jobs immediately. This included the government’s $100 million back-to-work regional jobs program, investing in infrastructure and investing in productivity enhancing projects.

Additionally, Ms Trad listed a number of reform measures the government is undertaking to deliver a “long-term, transparent and comprehensive plan to give confidence to the public and private sectors”. 

This included the establishment of the independent body Building Queensland to determine major investment needs, in order to bring new levels of assessment and rigour to implementing major infrastructure projects in QLD.

While Ms Trad looked to the future in terms of deliveries in her presentation, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Chief Executive Brendan Lyon instead said he wanted to discuss what he believed needs to happen in Queensland, rather than what is happening.

“Beyond the handful of funded projects, like the Toowoomba Second Range crossing and the modest extension of the Gold Coast Light Rail. Beyond these, there is no money available for Queensland’s priorities,” he said.

Mr Lyon said federal government funding alone would not be able to solve Queensland’s infrastructure needs, and that privatisation was a necessary option.

“Like NSW and Victoria, Queensland must look within, rather than to the Commonwealth for funding solutions,” Mr Lyon said.
“For Queensland, asset sales are the only real funding option in the short term.”

SunWater Chief Executive Officer, Nicole Hollows stated that delivering infrastructure would require more industry collaboration. Ms Hollows discussed the need for major infrastructure providers to engage and work together to deliver more cost-effective and necessary infrastructure. She said that working collectively with customers would lead to the development and delivery of infrastructure that makes economic sense and re-imagines industry and economies in regional Queensland.

While the speakers differed in their opinions on strategies for QLD’s economic growth, referring to CEDA’s recent report,Australia’s economic future: agenda for growth Ms Trad said the Palaszczuk Government’s focus on reform to develop the high paying jobs of the future echoed the priorities in the report, saying: “Clearly there is an emerging consensus on where we need to go”.