New model would put projects above politics and promote private investment

The Queensland economy stands at a crossroads. We cannot go back to the resources boom, but we can steer it towards opportunities for growth and job creation.

Unlocking the productivity of our cities through key infrastructure investment is the low-hanging fruit that governments will have to grab to kick start our state’s economy.

The Federal Government’s Cities Policy contains a commitment that could revolutionise the way we fund and prioritise infrastructure. It could provide southeast Queensland with the chance to lead the nation with a trial of the innovative new delivery model. The UK’s City Deals infrastructure funding model involves a contract between an economic region (think southeast Queensland) and the central government (think state and federal), committing funding for a priority list of infrastructure that has been assessed for its growth potential in jobs and productivity.

This approach, which is supported by the Property Council, lifts infrastructure above day-to-day politics and creates a unified investment strategy focused on a region’s economic growth.

It is pleasing to see the State Government embrace new funding models by committing to partner with the Property Council and the Council of Mayors (SEQ) to fund a groundbreaking study into how City Deals could work in southeast Queensland. This investigation will see a strategic business case and definitive proof-of-concept developed.

Bipartisan and cross-jurisdictional support for the City Deals model means thought now turns to what an SEQ City Deal would look like and what benefits it would bring.

A formal agreement with the federal, state and local governments could see concrete, long-term funding agreements for key projects.

Projects would be assessed to ensure they not only created jobs and generated immediate economic activity but were a catalyst for long-term growth.

The certainty a deal would bring would allow the property sector to get behind the infrastructure program with its own investment.

 First published in The Courier Mail, 29 April 2016.