Rail, renewables and music tourism: What we know about the 2022-23 Queensland budget

Queensland-Premier-Annastacia-Palaszczuk

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Source: AAP/Glenn Hunt.

Ahead of the Queensland budget, to be handed down tomorrow June 21, the Queensland government has made a number of funding announcements for future programs. 

These include a boost for the railways, dubbed the “rail revolution”, big wins for renewable energy storage and solar, a biomedical manufacturing facility, investment in pipelines and road infrastructure, and a plan to boost Queensland’s music tourism. 

Here’s what we know so far:

$3.5 billion for new rail projects

The Queensland government has committed $3.5 billion for what it has dubbed Queensland’s “rail revolution”, which it says will support for more than 5000 jobs and better rail services for the state. 

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick says the money will support traditional manufacturing and skilled SME jobs, with the government also finalising the purchase of the Rockhampton Railyards.

“That will enable us to encourage suppliers into the rail manufacturing supply chain to relocate to Queensland,” he said. 

Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey added that the investment will transform transport and support jobs, saying the state was not just building a new underground line, but was also investing in freight and passenger services. 

“This investment is headlined by projects like the Beerburrum to Nambour and Kuraby to Beenleigh track duplications, Gold Coast Light Rail stage three, station upgrades across all of Queensland, plus the manufacturing of 65 brand new trains in Maryborough,” he said, adding that the government will also be rolling out new ETCS technology to run more services and improve safety. 

The funding includes projects that will be delivered over the next 10 years.

Funding for batteries and solar

The government has also announced $15 million to scale up the National Battery Testing Centre, and $35 million for a statewide search for a second potential pumped hydro energy storage site.

“Energy storage is the key to unlocking Queensland’s renewable energy revolution,” Dick said.

“[The investment] represents a chance to build new manufacturing capacity in Queensland, supporting more secure, skilled jobs.

“As we progress towards our 50% renewable energy target by 2030, we want to ensure Queenslanders benefit from the thousands of jobs that will be created in the batteries sector as part of the global transition to a low carbon future.”

The government is also looking into the viability and community benefits of another pumped hydro project, with $35 million allocated for “detailed analytical studies that will consider the long-term benefits of this proposed large-scale storage project”, the Treasurer says. 

“Pumped hydro will play a critical role securing the future of Queensland’s energy system with a reliable supply of dispatchable power,” said Minister for Energy Mick de Brenni.

“As Queensland charges towards its renewable energy target, large-scale storage projects like pumped hydro will enable the continued investment in wind and solar.” 

$35.5 million for biomedical manufacturing

The government will also be investing an additional $35.5 million for the development of a Queensland-based vaccine manufacturing industry, contributing three-quarters of the cost for the Translational Research Institutes’s (TRI) manufacturing facility. 

“The Translational Manufacturing facility at the TRI would give Queensland researchers and biomedical companies the capacity to more easily achieve the production quantities they need for clinical trials,” the Treasurer said. 

“We are providing an avenue for the pipeline of innovative biomedical products in development to be manufactured locally, retaining local companies and talent as well as attracting new companies looking to set up in the Asia-Pacific region.” 

According to TRI CEO Professor Scott Bell, the government was “shoring up Queensland’s sovereign manufacturing capabilities, and in particular our ability to develop new vaccines and medical treatments locally”.

TRI’s manufacturing facility will support up to 500 industry jobs over 10 years and provide training to build a job-ready biomedical workforce. 

$200 million for essential infrastructure in southeast Queensland

According to Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning Steven Miles, this $200 million investment would unlock the housing supply, catering to an increased demand for land supply, particularly in southeast Queensland. 

The investment includes two funds, the first being a Growth Acceleration Fund that will support the “delivery of priority trunk infrastructure needed to develop new communities like Caboolture West”. According to Miles, this will mean new roads, water and sewerage infrastructure, as well as other public facilities. 

The second fund is the Catalyst Infrastructure Fund (CIF), which will receive “$150 million in equity funding for the major infrastructure needed to continue the delivery of new communities such as Ripley Valley and Greater Flagstone”, Miles says.  

“This new infrastructure funding is ensuring we can boost land supply and affordable housing choices. We are ensuring government, councils, developers and industry can keep up with the increase in demand for land, housing and the supporting infrastructure that comes with it.”

$300 million for water security and regional development

A $300 million investment will go towards ensuring water security and regional development, with the construction of the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline already underway. 

According to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the construction of the pipeline will deliver around 420 local jobs, as well as long-term water security. 

“Having certainty of drinking water supplies gives the community confidence, as well as the small businesses and industry that rely on councils’ reticulated supplies. This is fantastic news for the future prosperity of these communities, particularly the Southern Downs region which suffered from the prolonged drought,” Palaszczuk said. 

$20 million to make Queensland a music tourism capital

The state budget will allocate $20 million to be spent over three years to make Queensland a music tourism destination.

The government has revealed a “road trip meets music festival” initiative known as the Queensland Music Trails, that will see events in 16 communities across four regions, starting in May 2023.

“Through this program, you’ll be able to see some of the world’s biggest stars play at some of the most remote and picturesque destinations in the country,” the Premier said.

According to Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, regional destinations will see domestic and international tourists, and the concept combines music and established regional events.

“Following a 2021 trial of the Queensland Music Trails, the funding will be used by the Queensland Music Festival to develop a series of regional tourism and drive itineraries aimed at motivating people to travel to and around regional Queensland to experience music and art events designed for that area,” he said.

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