Greetings and welcome to the Spring edition of Queensland Economic Buzz.
I was pleased to hear that Queensland's economy had improved over the last 12 months with growth estimated to strengthen to 4% in 2016-17. The Department of State Development is committed to its vision—for Queensland's economy to be Australia's strongest and most diverse.
To achieve this vision, we have identified six emerging priority industries to develop Queensland's competitive strengths and create knowledge-based jobs of the future:
In this edition, you will read about our recent work with the potentially lucrative biofutures industry to leverage and progress opportunities across the state. We also have news from major mining and construction projects—industries which continue to underpin Queensland's economy.
Also in this edition of Queensland Economic Buzz you will find out about how we're working towards one of our strategic objectives—to strengthen Queensland's regions—with the next round of the Building our Regions (BoR) program.
BoR is pumping $375 million over five years into local communities and economies thanks to an extra $175 million announced in the recent budget.
The first round of BoR funding, released late last year, will eventually support almost 700 jobs and identify new economic development opportunities across the state. Of the 42 projects funded state-wide, as announced on 21 December 2015, one project has already been completed, 15 are under construction, 25 are in the design and tender stage, and all are expected to be underway by September.
It's great to see these programs and initiatives delivering real economic outcomes and employment opportunities to communities across Queensland.
In a big boost for Queensland's future economy and jobs, the Premier launched the nearly $20 million Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan during June's BIO International Convention in San Francisco. The Biofutures Roadmap and funding will help create the knowledge jobs of the future and has the potential to create a fresh and long-lasting wave of prosperity for Queensland—particularly in the regions.
Global demand for the biobased market is expected to exceed US$1 trillion by 2022. The government's vision for the state is an established and sustainable A$1 billion export-oriented industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector, attracting international investment to the state by 2025.
A giant step towards realising this vision was the successful attraction to Queensland of Southern Oil Refining's new $16 million advanced biofuels pilot plant to be built near Gladstone. If successful, the pilot plant will be expanded into a $150 million commercial-scale refinery capable of producing 200 million litres of advanced biofuel annually for military, marine and aviation use.
The United States Navy has advanced biofuels firmly in their focus with its Great Green Fleet initiative aiming to source 50% of their operational energy consumption through alternative sources. Queensland will help them achieve this, bolstered by the recent signing of a Statement of Cooperation outlining our joint commitment to explore the research, development, supply and sale of advanced biofuel.
Biofutures is one of the opportunities that will support Queensland's future economic prosperity, further diversify our economy and create regional employment. We have an ambitious 10-year vision, but the work of the department to support this emerging industry is already well underway.
Across Queensland, the resources sector delivers jobs, business opportunities and economic prosperity for many communities. In 2015-16, the department and the Office of the Coordinator-General delivered several major achievements for Queenslanders including:
These projects will deliver thousands of jobs for Queenslanders in the near future.
The department has launched a new-look Major Projects Series (MPS)—a suite of events currently rolling out across Queensland. Aimed at boosting regional economic growth, these events highlight key projects underway and major investments in the pipeline, and connect industry with business leaders.
The series is showcasing some of Queensland's top projects, including Queen's Wharf Brisbane and the North Queensland Stadium, as well as projects in the pipeline such as the Mount Emerald Wind Farm and Amrun mine. MPS focuses on ensuring regional Queenslanders and local businesses are in a position to take full advantage of these exciting projects.
The Townsville Industry Breakfast on 6 September is part of the series and given its focus on the North Queensland Stadium is expected to attract a strong crowd.
Like other MPS events, this initiative will help grow the Queensland economy, create jobs and plan for the future by drawing on the expertise, knowledge and relationships of government and industry stakeholders.
Nearly 300 guests attended the June Townsville Industry Breakfast to learn more about projects anticipated to create $313 million in work opportunities for the North Queensland region. These included major works driven by Griffin Group, Red River Resources and BMD Constructions.
Applications have now closed for Round 2 of the $375 million Building our Regions program, which aims to build critical infrastructure, support jobs and increase liveability in regional Queensland.
The state received 60 applications from 38 councils vying for the $70 million currently available in this round. These applications are currently under assessment, with the announcement of successful projects expected in late 2016.
Round 1 of Building our Regions allocated $70.8 million across 42 projects, leveraging $158 million from councils and other organisations. As a direct result, almost 700 jobs and new economic opportunities have been supported.
Since the announcement in December 2015, one project has already reached completion, another 15 are underway, and a further 25 are in the design or tender stage.
With the Olympic Games not long wrapped up, all eyes will soon be on Queensland for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games™ (GC2018). The department is on track to deliver the three new world-class venues required for the games:
The department is also managing major upgrades to an additional seven venues, including the Belmont Shooting Complex and the Gold Coast Hockey Centre. These projects will provide important sport and community facilities for Queensland into the future.
The Office of the Coordinator-General is currently working with Coopers Gap Wind Farm Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of AGL Energy Limited) to assess the potential environmental impacts of their proposed wind farm.
If constructed, the wind farm would contribute 5% to the gap in the government's renewable energy target. Other potential environmental benefits include powering up to 190,000 homes and reducing 860,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year—the equivalent of removing 250,000 cars off our roads.
The project, which is approximately 180 kilometres north-west of Brisbane and 50 kilometres south-west of Kingaroy, is expected to create 350 jobs during peak construction and around 20 during operations, with an estimated capital expenditure of $500 million.
The Coordinator-General declared the Coopers Gap Wind Farm a coordinated project requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS) on 7 June and finalised the Terms of Reference on 29 July.
The Department of State Development will join key government departments in 1 William Street (1WS), with over 5000 government employees relocating to the landmark office tower from late October 2016. The move will enable the efficient delivery of government services through collaboration and technology and supports the state government's five organisational values:
Joining us at 1WS will be:
Together, these agencies will create a highly productive environment offering client access to decision-makers across the Queensland Government.
Site works are well underway for the Brisbane Broncos Training Administration and Community Facility in Red Hill. More than 9000m3 of soil is being cleared so that works can commence on the new training field and associated administration facility, with the local community set to benefit from access to both the new field and community rooms, including a theatrette.
The Department of State Development finalised a lease over a portion of the former Ithaca TAFE property with the Broncos late last year. Our team is currently administering the lease documentation and will see this through to construction, which is anticipated to be completed in 2017.