Queensland Government

Welcome from Director-General Michael Schaumburg

Welcome to the Spring edition of the Economic Buzz.

This issue coincides with the finalisation of the department's annual report - to be tabled in parliament shortly and available on our website. This process has provided my team with a valuable opportunity to reflect on the year's achievements and challenges and to review relevant economic data.

I am happy to report that the news is very good.

Despite the potentially crippling economic impact of Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie and during an ongoing period of economic transition, Queensland's economy is trending positively.

According to the recent State Budget, the Queensland economy is estimated to have grown by 2.75 per cent in 2016–17, well above the 1.75 per cent for the nation. Queensland businesses also recorded the highest or second highest confidence rating for any state economy over the same period, based on the NAB's Monthly Business Survey.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics trade data also shows that Queensland's exports continue to boom with a record $65.9 billion in goods sold overseas over the past 12 months. Encouragingly, this represents an increase in exports of 37.7 per cent over the last financial year, compared with 19.5 per cent for Australia overall.

A highlight for the last financial year, that continues into 2017-18, is the significant progress the department has made in advancing our priority industries. In particular, the successful implementation of initiatives under the Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Road Map and Action Plan and accompanying new jobs and economic growth for regional Queensland have been great achievements for the department. As part of this process the state government recently announced five potential new or expanded biorefineries through the $4 million Biofutures Acceleration Program (BAP). The program is supporting investment that could generate more than 330 jobs in regional Queensland. Proposed projects include:

  • a new biorefinery by US biotechnology company Amyris
  • a $26 million expansion of the Dalby Bio-Refinery
  • a $60 million Atherton Tableland biorefinery by MSF Sugar
  • an $11 million biorefinery project by US company Mercurius
  • a biorefinery by Brisbane-based biotech company Leaf Resources in regional Queensland.

During July the Minister for State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham attended the world's premier biotechnology event - the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Montreal. Minister Lynham shared Queensland's vision for a $1 billion biofutures sector by 2026 with about 1000 delegates during his address. In a clear demonstration of the state's commitment to this vision, Queensland took pride of place as the only state government from Australia to have a stand at the event.

In another win for the state's biofutures sector, the department recently negotiated an agreement between the government and Bio Processing Australia for a new $50 million integrated biorefinery in Mackay. Eligible for assistance from the department's $130 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund, the project is expected to create 115 jobs, attract significant investment to the region and will create an additional income stream for local sugarcane farmers.

Also in our regions, North Queensland Bio-Energy's $640 million biorefinery is a step closer to reality thanks to support from the department's Biofutures Industry Development Fund (BIDF). North Queensland Bio-Energy is the first company to qualify for a loan from the fund, and will receive $1.17 million from the Queensland Government to complete the final studies necessary to bring its proposed biorefinery, to be located near Ingham, to life. The BIDF is a repayable fund to help well-advanced industrial biotech proponents get large-scale projects through the final stages of due diligence and secure investor financing, closing the gap in the investment cycle for biofutures projects.

And that's just the beginning of Queensland's biofutures journey.

I hope you enjoy this edition and I look forward to sharing further economic achievements with you in the department's Summer issue.


Michael Schaumburg
Director-General, Department of State Development

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

Qantas Dreamliner flying high to North America

Queensland's future as an international tourism and aviation hub is flying high with Qantas selecting Brisbane as the base for four new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The Dreamliner is an ultra-long-distance aircraft capable of flying to destinations previously unserviceable as non-stop routes. This direct connectivity will open up new gateways from Queensland into the heart of North America when flights commence next year.

The service will put Brisbane in the range of direct flights to cities including Dallas, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Chicago and Seattle, opening up new markets for both business and tourism.

As the airline's spiritual home, Queensland already has 4700 Qantas employees across the state. November will mark 97 years since Qantas was founded in Winton, and 95 years since the airline flew its first scheduled passenger service from Longreach to Cloncurry.

To successfully secure the Dreamliner base for Brisbane over a number of alternatives, the Department of State Development led a coordinated proposal on behalf of the Queensland Government, Brisbane Airport Corporation, Brisbane Marketing and Tourism Australia.

This $1 billion investment from Qantas is expected to create 470 new direct and indirect jobs in the first five years of operations and secure tourism, employment and other economic benefits for many years to come.

This new service is a great example of government and commercial entities working together to secure jobs and economic opportunities for the state, and would not be possible without funding programs like the $40 million Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund and the $10 million Attracting Aviation Industry Fund.

Read more about the Qantas announcement.

Photo: Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image courtesy of Qantas.

Queensland in box seat for military vehicle manufacturing

Queensland in box seat for military vehicle manufacturing

In a major coup for local industry, Rheinmetall Defence Australia has selected Queensland as its preferred location for their Australian headquarters and military vehicle manufacturing facility.

Rheinmetall Defence Australia is one of two companies vying for the Department of Defence's $5 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 project to deliver 225 combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV) for the Australian Army.

If Rheinmetall is the successful bidder with their Boxer CRV, it plans for the Queensland facility to not only manufacture and sustain those vehicles but also support Rheinmetall's other military vehicle projects from across Australia and South-East Asia.

Although Queensland is already Australia's largest heavy vehicle manufacturing and maintenance hub, attracting a global defence giant like Rheinmetall to Queensland will herald the beginning of a new military vehicle manufacturing industry in the state and will be an economic and industry development game changer.

Rheinmetall expects the manufacturing facility and its impact on the local supply chain to generate at least 450 full-time equivalent jobs and contribute more than $1 billion to the state's economy in the first 10 years of operation.

These are the high-skilled, knowledge-based advanced manufacturing and engineering jobs of the future. The opportunities across the supply chain will also extend to the transfer of skills and technologies to Queensland enterprises increasing their global competitiveness for other projects.

Read more about Rheinmetall's announcement.

Photos: (top) Rheinmetall's Boxer CRV and HX77 truck; (inset) A momentous partnership between the Queensland Government and Rheinmetall Defence Australia (l-r) Minister for State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham, Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts Annastacia Palaszczuk, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Curtis Pitt, Mr Ben Hudson, Rheinmetall Defence Executive Board Member and Global Head of Vehicle Systems, Mr Gary Stewart, Chief Operations Officer, Rheinmetall Defence Australia.

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games venues are ready, set … go!

Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre

All competition venues for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games are now complete – delivered by the department under budget and well ahead of the event – allowing adequate time for the venues to be thoroughly tested (and enjoyed!) prior to hosting the Games.

This $320 million investment in sport and community infrastructure has supported approximately 1000 jobs during design and construction, and more than 10,400 individual people have worked onsite.

The department was responsible for managing the planning, design, procurement and construction of three new world-class venues and major upgrades to a further seven venues.

The program has delivered positive economic results for the regional city, with 40 per cent of the construction contracts awarded to local contractors and a further 53 per cent allocated to South East Queensland businesses.

Longer-term economic benefits are also being realised, with bookings for the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre, Anna Meares Velodrome and the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre indicating strong future demand for these world-class facilities. For example, less than a year after completion, the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre is operating at a profit, with the revenue exceeding the venue's operating expenditure three years earlier than anticipated.

The Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre has also demonstrated its capacity as a world-class venue, hosting the World Badminton Championships. Securing this international event was a major coup, with the Gold Coast the first city outside Europe and Asia to host the Sudirman Cup. With a global audience of more than 400 million, the event provided a great opportunity to promote the city before the Games.

As the first regional city to win a Commonwealth Games bid, this phenomenal achievement for the Gold Coast demonstrates the capability of regional Queensland to host events of this magnitude and quality in the future.

Read more about the Commonwealth Games venues.

Photos: (top) The last competition venue to be completed – Gold Coast Hockey Centre; (inset) the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre

Jobs and $70.3 million critical infrastructure boon for regional Queensland

 A win-win for community and the region: Mr Andrew Beckett Jnr (volunteer), Mr Andrew Beckett Snr (Manager), Mr Damian Selby (volunteer), Mr Thomas Weazel (volunteer)

Round 3 allocations for the Building our Regions (BoR) program will see $70.3 million awarded across 65 critical infrastructure projects and the creation of 438 jobs for regional Queensland.

This latest round provides funding for projects from Eromanga in the south west to Horn Island in the far north. Funded projects range from the provision of support for commercial development, to securing water supplies and providing health and social benefits that enhance the liveability of regional communities.

The Cherbourg Material Recovery Facility, which secured a total of $1,487,000 across three rounds of BoR funding, highlights the program's role as a catalyst for economic growth. When complete, the facility's annual waste output capacity will increase from 250 tonnes to an estimated 3500 tonnes. This additional capacity to process recyclable material will significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Ultimately, it is hoped that this project will enable a recycling program across the whole of the South Burnett area.

Round 3's allocation will provide for an extension of the operations shed and the installation of a new automated paper and cardboard-baling machine that will be integrated into the production line. Jobs are expected to rise from five to seven full-time equivalents, with opportunities for training also available.

Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council Project Manager Andrew Beckett Snr says the centre is a win-win for the community and the region.

“It's good for the Cherbourg community, but if you look at the overall impact it's going to make, it's going to be a service that provides for the whole South Burnett region,” he said.

Read more about round 3 of Building our Regions.

Photo: (inset) A win-win for community and the region: Mr Andrew Beckett Jnr (volunteer), Mr Andrew Beckett Snr (Manager), Mr Damian Selby (volunteer), Mr Thomas Weazel (volunteer).

Blueprint to help north west Queensland catch the next resource wave

The Queensland Government has announced $39 million in funding for a strategy that will stimulate exploration investment and identify job-creating projects in the state's resources-rich North West Minerals Province.

A Strategic Blueprint for Queensland's North West Minerals Province aims to drive the next wave of resource development, encourage new industry and bolster community resilience.

The department is leading the implementation and reporting of the blueprint and is responsible for key initiatives, including:

  • leading the development and consultation of the North West Queensland Economic Diversification Strategy
  • undertaking a common user infrastructure assessment
  • establishing a regionally based implementation team.

The blueprint contains a suite of actions to secure the long-term future of the region, with $39 million to be allocated over four years for a range of short and medium-term actions. These actions fall under three strategic priorities:

  • facilitating continued resources sector development
  • diversifying the regional economy and creating employment opportunities
  • working with businesses and the community to deliver integrated and appropriate services.

This blueprint reflects the Queensland Government's commitment to partnering with all levels of government, the resources sector, business and industry and local communities to secure the future of this important region.

Read more about the blueprint.

Photo: Glencore's Mount Isa Mines operates the largest mining and processing operations in the province. Photo by Through The Looking Glass Studio.

Queen's Wharf Brisbane watches its waste

Queen's Wharf Brisbane watches its waste - Executive Building demolition with progress banners, 25 July 2017

Work on the $3 billion Queen's Wharf Brisbane Integrated Resort Development (IRD) is well underway with up to 150 employees on site for the demolition of the former Executive, 80 George Street and Neville Bonner buildings.

With a recycling target of 90 per cent, demolition material removed from the precinct is being recycled into construction materials for other projects around South East Queensland. Steel, aluminium, glass and cable stockpiles will go to certified destruction and recycling services, while tiles, stonework, concrete and masonry rubble will be transferred to approved renewable energy and waste management facilities.

The next phase of work, involving excavation, is expected to begin from early 2018, subject to planning approvals.

The project will also see the construction of the first bridge across the Brisbane River in more than a decade, when the Neville Bonner Bridge is commissioned in approximately 2022.

Before finalising the detailed design for the bridge, four temporary navigation buoys have been installed in the river, each with GPS trackers, to outline the proposed area for the bridge pylon. The location is being trialled with river users to check manoeuvrability around the proposed structure.

With the core IRD expected to open in 2022, the project will become a large-scale employer both during and beyond construction. It will include five new hotels, three residential towers and 50 food and beverage outlets.

Read more about Queen's Wharf Brisbane.

Photos: (top) 400-tonne crane ready to remove the Margaret Street overpass, 21 July 2017; (inset) Executive Building demolition with progress banners, 25 July 2017.

Progress flows for Nathan Dam

The Coordinator-General approved the Nathan Dam and Pipelines project and released his evaluation report on 31 May 2017 for the proposed dam and water pipeline on the Dawson River. The report was presented to the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy, and in July 2017 gained approval subject to conditions.

If progressed, the project will create 525 jobs during peak construction, and generate a $1.2 billion investment for the state’s economy.

The proponent, SunWater, has proposed the construction and operation of an 888,000 megalitre dam, with an annual yield of 66,000 megalitres per year, and a pipeline to Warra, north of Dalby in Central Queensland.

The dam would service existing and new mining and power customers in the Surat Basin and urban communities along the Dawson River, as well as existing agricultural users whose supply would be affected by the dam.

The report includes conditions to manage potential impacts on the community and local ecology, including some endangered species and the Great Artesian Basin Springs.

It also includes recommendations for approval of plans required for managing impacts to groundwater and groundwater-dependent ecosystems, surface water quality, fish passage, protected plants and animals and cultural heritage.

While there are no immediate plans for construction, SunWater has the option to progress a business case for project funding as demand for water supply in the region grows.

Read more about the Nathan Dam and Pipelines project.

Photo: Artist's impression of the proposed Nathan Dam project.

A shot in the arm for Queensland's biomedical sector

A shot in the arm for Queensland's biomedical sector

A new $4 million Queensland Biomedical 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan is set to expand Queensland's biomedical sector and deliver up to 3000 new jobs.

Launched by the Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts Annastacia Palaszczuk during her June visit to the BIO International Convention in San Diego, the roadmap will capitalise on Queensland's globally recognised strengths in the manufacture of biopharmaceutical products, generic pharmaceuticals, medical devices and niche point-of-care diagnostics.

Developed by the department in close consultation with industry, the roadmap puts forward three key strategies that will better position Queensland's biomedical enterprises in the global market place:

  • creating a healthier biomedical start-up community
  • supporting existing businesses to grow and attract new businesses to Queensland
  • promoting the industry to attract additional investment.

Several key initiatives have been developed under these strategies to advance Queensland's biomedical sector, including the $2 million Biomedical Assistance Fund. Designed to support the state's innovative biomedical start-up community, this fund opens the door for biomedical enterprises to leverage billions of dollars in government and private sector funding. This includes the Australian Government's $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund, the Australian Government's $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund and the $40 million Advance Queensland Business Development Fund. This will provide biomedical enterprises with support to access the capital they need to move products through the commercialisation pathway and, in turn, grow and create knowledge-based jobs for the future.

Other initiatives include working with Queensland Health to identify new opportunities and the development of an online portal to improve connectively between businesses with the view to promoting broader industry capability.

Read more about the roadmap.

Photos: (top) Biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility at Princess Alexandra Hospital; (inset) Cook Medical technicians hand sew endovascular stents.

New roadmap to create 3000 extra jobs for $7 billion METS sector

New roadmap to create 3000 extra jobs for $7 billion METS sector

The Queensland Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan is set to create 3000 extra jobs, and make the state's $7 billion METS sector a world leader.

The roadmap was developed by the department in conjunction with industry and launched on 19 July 2017 by the Minister for State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham. It sets out the government's practical plans to advance the sector, with initiatives including:

  • developing an accelerator pathway for Queensland METS companies seeking to commercialise new products or processes (with METS Ignited and other partners)
  • undertaking a stocktake of the state's existing and potential testing facilities to identify where METS companies can test their new products, processes or services (with METS Ignited)
  • piloting a Mackay Open Innovation Community of METS companies, Bowen Basin mining companies and researchers that will be focussed on addressing the specific challenges of Bowen Basin miners (with METS Ignited and local partners)
  • creating an energy and resources technology networking series, to be held in regions across Queensland and focussing on sharing information about new technology
  • establishing a centre for developing entrepreneurial management capabilities and innovative business models (with METS Ignited).

Queensland's METS sector employs 19,500 people across Queensland, generating $7 billion in revenue and $2.5 billion in value-add to the Queensland economy. With global population growth and increasing standards of living contributing to the demand for natural resources, Queensland's METS sector is well-placed to meet these challenges and lead the innovation necessary for the industry to improve productivity and environmental sustainability.

Read more about the METS roadmap.