The State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act) facilitates timely, coordinated and environmentally responsible infrastructure planning and development to support Queensland's economic and social progress.
The SDPWO Act was originally passed in 1938 by William Forgan Smith's Labor government as a post-Depression measure to encourage public works and generate employment.
Commonly referred to as the 'Coordinator-General's Act', the SDPWO Act provides for the appointment of a Coordinator-General as a corporation sole, representing the Crown.
The Act gives the Coordinator-General significant powers to (among other things):
- manage major infrastructure projects
- declare a project to be a 'coordinated project' and coordinate the environmental impact assessment of the project
- coordinate and regulate programs of works
- enter and authorise entry onto land to undertake works
- compulsorily acquire land
- implement and manage state development areas.
Other key provisions
In addition, the Act establishes:
- a system for directing the Coordinator-General, local bodies and other persons to undertake works by the passing of a regulation (e.g. construction of a pipeline, bridge or other public facility)
- legal remedies for the Coordinator-General (e.g. enforcement of conditions imposed on a project) and individuals affected by the exercise of the Coordinator-General's powers (e.g. compensation claims)
- administrative arrangements for the effective operation of the Coordinator-General.
Amendments to Act
The SDPWO Act was substantially amended in 1971, when the Coordinator-General's powers were expanded to include supervision of the environment.
Further amendments have been made over the past 40 years. The most recent amendments include:
- clarification and improvement of Coordinator-General's powers
- better reflection of state government policies and priorities
- streamlining assessment of major project proposals
- ability of the Coordinator-General to 'step in' when state government departments, local governments or other 'local bodies' fail to make a timely decision on a key project
- creation of critical infrastructure easements, which are easements over existing public utility easements
- imposition of fees for the assessment of coordinated projects
- power for the Coordinator-General to acquire land for ‘infrastructure facilities of significance’ (now called ‘private infrastructure facilities’)
- ability of the Coordinator-General to evaluate proposed changes to coordinated projects
- ability for more than one person to be appointed Deputy Coordinator-General - to ensure the Coordinator-General has sufficient support to meet increased workloads.