A new report has shown how essential the State Government’s Capital building program is to the Far North’s economy.

The Far North Queensland Infrastructure Plan (FNQIP) Progress Report, released today, provides an update since the release of the FNQIP in February 2009.

“Our building program has kept 5,700 people in jobs in FNQ in recent years and will provide jobs for close to 11,000 people in coming years.

“And it’s not just the people directly employed who benefit.

“Everyone from the companies supplying materials through to the takeaway store feeding the workers all gain from the big dollars invested in these projects,” Ms Bligh said.

The progress report shows that more than $735 million worth of projects have been completed in the region since February 2009 supporting around 5,700 jobs during the global financial crisis.

“It also shows that $1.63 billion of planned state government infrastructure investment over the next four years will support around 10,950 jobs in the region,” said Premier Anna Bligh.

“We are ensuring that the area is well-placed to cope with the challenges of population growth.

“Our record building program is also providing essential jobs during difficult economic times for Far North Queensland.”

The Premier said the progress report highlights a number of milestones—including the release in July 2010 of the Cairns Transit Network Concept Design Report—which contains the results of the preliminary transport studies and preferred alignments for the 70km network from Palm Cove to Gordonvale.

“The Ingham to Cardwell Range Planning Study is also due to be finalised in 2011 and visionary projects like the Cairns Cultural Precinct also feature in the progress report,” she said.

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt highlighted the importance of keeping pace with growth in the region.

“Another milestone this year was the release of the preferred option for the Bruce Highway upgrade, a $150 million Federal-funded project being delivered by the State Government with construction due to begin 2011,” he said.

“The southern corridor of Cairns is the known population growth area and I’m thankful for the rigorous planning that has been undertaken.

“Now it’s about continuing to deliver on important projects to our region like the Bruce Highway upgrade, public housing and other government construction projects.”

Member for Cairns Desley Boyle praised investment in infrastructure.

“For Cairns and the region, thank heavens for the State Government infrastructure spend over the last few years and for the next few years because, without it, the construction industry and many whose jobs are associated with it would have been in even more strife,” Ms Boyle said.

Barron River Member Steve Wettenhall said the region welcomed the level of investment in infrastructure.

“These projects are essential in themselves but they are also providing a much needed boost to the economy in Far North Queensland,” he said.

Cook Member Jason O’Brien said the infrastructure program had been important for local businesses.

“Many local contractors, suppliers and tradesmen have been working on projects like the expansion of Lotus Glen Correctional Centre,” he said.

The progress report shows that top three asset classes for State and Federal Government job generation are:

Regional health infrastructure such as the Cairns base Hospital Redevelopment – $473.1 million or 3,188 jobs

Regional transport infrastructure such as the Construction of new Jubilee Bridge at Innisfail – $390.8 million or 2,633 jobs

Education, training and research such as the Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE Cairns Campus redevelopment – $117.9 million or 795 jobs

“Having program delivery plans in place allows us to coordinate road, rail, public transport, water, energy, social and community infrastructure in a way that will provide the best results for Far North Queenslanders,” said the Premier.

“A key outcome of the Queensland Growth Management Summit which took place in March this year was the need to plan for growth in our regions and build the infrastructure and services we need to move population growth out of the SEQ corner.

“By building stronger regions, growth and economic opportunities can be shared throughout Queensland.”

Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said in 2011, the Queensland Infrastructure Plan (QIP) will become the key tool in linking infrastructure delivery with Queensland’s economic development priorities.

“This state-wide blueprint of infrastructure needs will absorb the information from existing planning documents, such as the FNQIP, thereby allowing us to have a better overarching view of what is needed to meet Queensland’s future growth demands,” Mr Hinchliffe said. 

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