As Australia starts to see a light at the end of the tunnel from the current isolation restrictions, governments at all levels look to measures that will pave the way to rebuilding the economy in 2020 and beyond. The construction and infrastructure industry is set to play a big part in that recovery effort, and there are renewed calls for governments to consider ways to fast-track construction and infrastructure projects.
Those renewed calls have come mainly from industry groups and peak organisations, such as IAQ, QMCA, CCF, UDIA, MBA and RACQ, trying to do their best to protect and grow their industry through this testing period.
Unavoidably, with a push to ‘fast track’ comes the risk that the processes designed to protect the community, environment, workers, etc. are eroded. So despite the desire to get things moving, governments (and private owners) must ensure there is no compromise in the integrity of their processes in making decisions to fast-track or implementing fast-tracking measures. It is also imperative that any ‘fast-track’ projects are not undertaken just for the sake of trying to bolster the economy, and that there remains an identifiable need for each fast-tracked project.
All State and Territory governments have already started implementing measures to get fast-tracking under way, including:
In Queensland, various measures have been undertaken or are in the pipeline to respond to the crisis.
The Palaszczuk government, councils and other groups have given the Morrison government various lists of projects for possible stimulus funding. These include major transport and mass transit projects under the South East Queensland City Deal, which was already under negotiation.
The Queensland and federal governments have already agreed to fast-track 22 jointly-funded regional roads projects worth $185 million, although both are being asked to outlay much more.
Urgent amendments to the planning legislation that were introduced in late March are now in effect. The amendments give the planning minister greater flexibility to suspend or extend any of the statutory timeframes across the planning framework.
Toni Power, Queensland’s first female Coordinator General, is chairing the Infrastructure Industry Steering Committee (IISC), a group made up of various government and industry bodies working together to prioritise and progress catalytic infrastructure projects and development opportunities.
We understand that individual departments are also examining what they can do to keep the pipeline of work flowing. For example, the Coordinator General (CG) is looking at opportunities to leverage the CG’s powers into some smaller projects (i.e. non-mega projects) and to accelerate the approvals process, which has long been a bone of contention within the industry.
It is hugely encouraging to see the depth of work, understanding and willingness to collaborate (both within the industry, and between the industry and governments of all levels) that this crisis has engendered.
However, the real challenge is yet to come. Short term fixes are much needed and appreciated, but the medium to longer term future of infrastructure in Australia is the real prize here. What happens once the crisis is over?
Authors: Suzy Cairney & Carla Mazibuko
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.