Queensland Government

Welcome from Director-General Michael Schaumburg

Welcome to the first edition of Queensland Economic Buzz for 2017.

The Department of State Development continues to lead the delivery of economic development outcomes for Queensland with a strong focus on industry, regions and projects that support enterprise growth and job creation.

The year kicked off to a great start for regional Queensland with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released in late February showing reduced unemployment rates in the majority of regions outside South East Queensland. Trend unemployment remained steady in February with ABS data showing a possible emerging stabilisation of the state's labour market participation rate.

Overall unemployment rates fell over the year to January 2017 in 10 regions:

  • Cairns (down 0.4 percentage point to 7.6%)
  • Gold Coast (down 0.1 to 5.3%)
  • Logan-Beaudesert (down 2.1 to 5.6%)
  • Moreton Bay North (down 0.2 to 6.6%)
  • Moreton Bay South (down 1.0 to 3.9%)
  • Darling Downs-Maranoa (down 0.4 to 3.6%)
  • Fitzroy (down 1.0 to 6.3%)
  • Mackay (down 1.9 to 5.7%)
  • Sunshine Coast (down 1.2 to 4.7%)
  • Wide Bay (down 0.3 to 9.6%).

At the same time, to generate more regional jobs and to provide a boost for local economies, the state government opened Round 3 of the Building our Regions critical infrastructure program six months early. The $70 million on offer will be allocated mid-year. Read more about Round 3 and our $5 million supplementary round in this edition.

Also helping out our regional communities is the $130 million Regional Jobs and Growth Fund, providing direct facilitation for private sector projects. Through this program potential proponents can apply for financial assistance from $100,000 to over $10 million.

And while our regions continue to consolidate their place as the economic powerhouse of the state, recent data also points to a strengthening and on-track economy:

  • State Final Demand, a key measure of the state's domestic economy, rose 0.4% in trend terms in the March, June and September quarters of 2016, the first positive results since the December 2013 quarter
  • the current planned project pipeline has increased by $1 billion to $116 billion and is the largest of any state, according to Deloitte Access Economics' December 2016 Investment Monitor
  • the NAB Monthly Business Survey continues to show that confidence in Queensland is consistently above the Australian average, with the state ranking first for January 2017.

I look forward to working with you as we continue to collaborate with all levels of government and business to deliver further economic outcomes with a focus on regional Queensland.


Michael Schaumburg
Director-General, Department of State Development

Photo: Department of State Development's Director-General Michael Schaumburg.

$150 million in grants to kickstart more jobs and growth

The Department of State Development is set to kickstart more jobs and growth across the state, with $150 million in funding on offer through the recently launched Jobs and Regional Growth Fund and Made in Queensland program.

Jobs and Regional Growth

The $130 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund is backing business and jobs in regional Queensland, with a focus on areas experiencing higher than average unemployment. Financial assistance, ranging from $100,000 to over $10 million, is available to help a broad range of businesses generate ongoing employment and economic development benefits for regional Queensland.

Find out if your business is eligible for support or contact us on 1300 785 106.

Made in Queensland

The Queensland Government's $20 million Made in Queensland grants program will support the state's manufacturing sector to grow, innovate and create jobs for the future. After working with the department on a benchmarking process to identify business opportunities, small-to-medium Queensland-based manufacturers can apply for grants of between $50,000 and $2.5 million to match their own investment in their business's future. If you're a Queensland manufacturer looking to take your business to the next level, find out more and register your interest in Made in Queensland.

These funds come on top of the $150 million already allocated for 93 critical infrastructure projects across regional Queensland as part of the $375 million Building our Regions program. Initiatives funded by Building our Regions are specifically selected for the real economic, social and environmental benefits they deliver to regional Queensland communities.

Queensland's defence industries in full flight at Avalon Airshow

Defence Industries Queensland (DIQld) hosted 13 industry partners at the Australian International Aerospace and Defence Exposition in Victoria. Known as the Avalon Airshow, the event is the largest aerospace and air defence industry exposition in the southern hemisphere.

Held every two years, the event attracts international and Australian civil and defence industry leaders. This year's show ran from 3 to 5 March at at Avalon Airport near Geelong.

The Department was at the event to promote the state's aerospace industry capabilities to an international audience and assist local companies with access to prime contractors and potential business partners.

To facilitate business opportunities for Queensland companies, DIQld hosted a defence and aerospace business and industry networking event in Melbourne on 1 March, attracting around 180 business leaders.

The event also provided an opportunity to showcase Queensland's broader defence industry capabilities, particularly capabilities in heavy vehicle manufacturing and our state's high-tech organisations. These Queensland companies support defence in the specialist areas of battle management systems and C4ISREW (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare).

Read more about Queensland's defence capabilities and Avalon Airshow 2017.

Photo: (top) MRH90 helicopters courtesy Department of Defence; (inset) EM Solutions

Bundaberg State Development Area provides great opportunities for industry

The declaration of a new State Development Area (SDA) has made Bundaberg an attractive destination for new and existing businesses and industries looking to expand and invest.

The new SDA was formally declared on 10 February 2017 and is approximately 6,076 hectares in size. It includes land around the existing Port of Bundaberg on the eastern side of the Burnett River as well as agricultural and rural land on the western side.

The declaration of the Bundaberg SDA follows the Coordinator-General's thorough investigation into the suitability of the site. This included a technical analysis of the economic development opportunities, physical and environmental constraints, community and environmental impacts, and infrastructure requirements associated with the proposal.

The Bundaberg SDA has direct access to the Port of Bundaberg and is located near other key infrastructure networks. It will provide opportunities for port-related development and complementary large-scale industrial and infrastructure facilities.

Read more about the Bundaberg SDA.

Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure makes a splash

The Coordinator-General's evaluation report on an environmental impact statement for the $495 million Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project has approved the infrastructure, subject to conditions.

Project proponents SunWater and the Gladstone Area Water Board are seeking to raise the existing Eden Bann Weir and to construct a new one at Rookwood, west of Rockhampton.

This would help to meet future demand for water from urban populations, industry and agriculture in Rockhampton, Gladstone and the Capricorn Coast regions.

The Commonwealth Government has committed $130 million towards construction of the weir, subject to the development of a positive business case and environmental approvals.

Building Queensland will complete the business case in collaboration with SunWater and the Gladstone Area Water Board in the second half of 2017, while the Office of the Coordinator-General continues to work with proponents to help deliver this important infrastructure.

Read more about the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project.

Photos (main and inset): Eden Bann Weir spillway, courtesy Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Central Region Water Monitoring Team.

Works begin on Queen's Wharf Brisbane

The Queen's Wharf Brisbane precinct was officially handed to the Destination Brisbane Consortium on 1 January – kickstarting the commencement of works which will create jobs and transform an underutilised CBD precinct into a world-class Integrated Resort Development.

The project, due for completion in approximately 2022, will include 5 new hotels, 3 residential towers and 50 food and beverage outlets.

In December 2016 the Destination Brisbane Consortium contracted Probuild, a national company with a strong Queensland presence, to undertake the Queen's Wharf Brisbane demolition and enabling works. This work includes services relocations, hoarding of the site and soft strip-out of the non-heritage buildings earmarked for demolition, followed by their removal to ground level.

The demolition process includes three non-heritage buildings (no heritage building will be included): the former Executive Building, Neville Bonner Building and 80 George Street and is expected to take a year.

During the six-year demolition and construction period it is anticipated the project will employ more than 2,000 construction workers, with a further 8,000 jobs expected to be on offer when Queen's Wharf Brisbane is operational.

Both the Queensland Government and the Destination Brisbane Consortium require contractors to support Indigenous participation, local jobs, suppliers, training and apprenticeships and to enforce the highest level of health and safety standards.

If you're interested in construction roles and opportunities for the demolition and enabling works please contact Probuild.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on Queen's Wharf Brisbane.

Photo: (l-r) Matt Bekier, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, The Star Entertainment Group; Simon Crooks, Project Director, Destination Brisbane Consortium; Dr Anthony Lynham MP, Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines; Dean Prangley, President, Royal Historical Society of Queensland; Professor John Pearn, Councillor, Royal Historical Society of Queensland.

North Queensland Stadium delivers on all fronts for Townsville

The North Queensland Stadium has reached two key milestones that will deliver employment and economic opportunities for the local community.

These include releasing the appointment of the concept design team and the tender for the managing contractor role.

CPB Contractors, Watpac Construction and Lendlease Building have been invited to tender for the North Queensland Stadium's managing contractor role as a result of an Expressions of Interest (EOI) process that concluded in January. Each shortlisted company has a Townsville office and an impressive local industry participation strategy that will support the key project objective to create opportunities, jobs and industry training for locals.

The stadium managing contractor is expected to be appointed by April 2017 and will award all work packages relating to the stadium's construction.

This follows the unveiling of the winning pandanus-inspired concept design in December and the appointment of the principal consultant, led by Cox Architecture and including Townsville-based 9Point9 Architects.

The design team is currently consulting with local stakeholders to progress the concept design and has already received positive and constructive feedback.

The stadium project will contribute to broader benefits for the region including:

  • the revitalisation of the Townsville CBD
  • promotion of Townsville as an 'events city'
  • a catalyst for broader investment in the priority development area, the city and the region
  • improved stadium facilities for athletes, staff and spectators
  • community pride.

The North Queensland Stadium is a key component of the Queensland Government's wider commitment to advancing North Queensland – over $2.4 billion in infrastructure improvements for the region was allocated in the 2016-17 State Budget, representing thousands of jobs for regional Queenslanders.

Read more about the North Queensland Stadium.

Photo: North Queensland Stadium concept design.

State Development sparks global interest in Queensland bio

An international drive to attract biorefinery development to Queensland is paying dividends, with 26 responses to the Biofutures Acceleration Program Expression of Interest.

Proposals were received from established companies based in the USA, Asia and Europe as well as from local Queensland companies, with many potential proponents identifying specific biorefinery development locations and projected job and investment opportunities. The department is now assessing each proposal, with shortlisted successful proponents to be announced in mid-2017.

The Biofutures Acceleration Program is one of several Queensland Government initiatives dedicated to creating a $1 billion sustainable export-oriented industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector in Queensland by 2026. Almost $20 million in funding has been allocated over three years to realise this vision and support the Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.

Read more about the Biofutures Acceleration Program.

Building our Regions boosts infrastructure and jobs

Building our Regions is in overdrive with two rounds of the multi-million dollar regional infrastructure program running concurrently – the $5 million supplementary round for remote and Indigenous communities and Round 3's $70 million funding pool.

Last week 15 remote and Indigenous councils submitted 20 detailed applications, which will now be assessed. Round 3 has 127 shortlisted projects and 61 councils will now have to submit detailed applications to stay in the running for the $70 million available.

The opening of Round 3 was brought forward six months ahead of schedule, ensuring successful projects for both rounds will be announced mid-year. This is good news for regional Queensland as it will generate more jobs and provide a boost for local economies sooner.

Projects funded by Building our Regions are specifically selected for the real economic, social and environmental benefits they deliver to regional Queensland communities.

The current rounds build on the $150 million already allocated across 93 projects which supports almost 1300 jobs in regional communities. These critical infrastructure projects have attracted a further $275 million investment from councils and other organisations.

Find out more about the Building our Regions Program.

Photo: Donohue Highway.

Full speed ahead at the Nerang Mountain Bike Trails

Grab your bike and helmet and head out to Queensland's newly upgraded Nerang Mountain Bike Trails, the latest international-standard venue to be completed for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The $3.2 million project includes new and upgraded trails located in the Nerang National Park as well as refurbishments of the nearby Gold Coast Cycle Centre, including an amenities block, car parking and access facilities and a new spectator viewing platform.

The mountain bike trails are approximately 4.7 kilometres long and feature two main trail loops that feed into the Gold Coast Cycle Centre's velodrome to offer the greatest viewing opportunity for spectators.

The department worked closely with Queensland Parks and Wildlife and Dirt Art's mountain bike champion Nathan Rennie to ensure the track was challenging and that its design and construction had minimal impact on the environment.

Completed in February, the trails are now open to the public and already proving very popular with locals.

Read more about the Nerang Mountain Bike Trails.

Photo: Loop 2, Nerang Mountain Bike Trails