The New South Wales and Queensland governments have accelerated state construction works and planning projects to bolster the economy during COVID-19.
New South Wales has announced it will be fast-tracking 24 of its construction projects, creating thousands of jobs for the construction industry during COVID-19.
These projects are estimated to create 9500 new jobs during construction and, once complete, will inject $7.54 billion into the state’s economy.
The speeding up of the projects will be part of the NSW Government’s Planning System Acceleration Program, which aims to have a quicker turnaround time on decisions for projects. However, the assessment process has not changed and the same planning rules and policies will apply.
For a project to be considered under the assessment, its development application or rezoning must already be in the system, provide benefits to the public and show its potential to create jobs during construction.
Construction will also need to be able to commence within six months for a state Significant Development application or state Significant Infrastructure application, or allow a development application to be lodged within six months for a rezoning.
The projects include new industrial complexes, thousands of new homes and six schools in what the government is pitching as the “first wave” of projects to be accelerated.
“By fast-tracking assessments, we will keep people in jobs and keep the construction industry moving as we ride out the COVID-19 pandemic and set our sights on economic recovery,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Under the Planning System Acceleration Program, decisions for the first wave of projects will be made within the next four weeks, according to NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.
“This will mean shovel-ready projects can get underway and the construction pipeline can continue to grow,” Stokes said. “If approved, these projects will be a win-win for NSW — delivering jobs for today, and local community and business benefits tomorrow. “It’s important to note that this is not a greenlighting exercise; the same stringent checks, balances and community consultation that ensures transparency, public benefit and merit-based assessment of projects remain.”
The first tranche of projects includes fast-tracking main works to the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project, which will provide 2000 jobs.
Queensland road projects
Queensland is providing a $185 million boost for its roadworks to start sooner to also boost its own economy.
The decision was agreed upon by the Australian and Queensland Governments over 22 jointly-funded region roads.
Works include road sealing, construction overtaking lanes, intersection upgrades and safety improvements across regional areas of the state to improve inland freight corridors.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the works are set to be undertaken through the Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) initiative.
“As the effects of COVID-19 ripple through our economy, it is vital all levels of government work together to support jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger and safer regional communities,” he said.
“Delivering early works through the ROSI initiative will give regional Queensland communities access to new projects and jobs.
“We are committed to delivering the Federal Government’s $100 billion, 10-year infrastructure pipeline which will support our economy and create jobs, particularly for those in the construction and building supply chain sectors, through the current COVID-19 response.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said hundreds of jobs will be supported through the roadworks project.
“This will support hundreds of jobs across Queensland,” Palaszczuk said. “The combined value of these early works upgrades on Queensland’s key inland freight corridors is worth about $185 million over the next four years.
“We’ll talk with the local councils through the Regional Roads and Transport Groups and other key industry stakeholders who use those corridors to identify projects that can be prioritised within the remaining ROSI corridor allocations.”
Industry response to the news
Cement Concrete Aggregates Australia (CCAA) has welcomed the NSW and Queensland Governments’ initiatives to stimulated activity in the building and construction industries.
“Investing in increased activity in Australia’s building and construction industries is vital to restoring Australia’s economic and social capacity in the face of one of the biggest challenges to face our nation,” the CCAA’s CEO Ken Slattery told Quarry.
“The latest data suggests that the building and construction industry employs more than 1.27 million Australians and constitutes more than 8.4 per cent of Australia’s economic activity. Anything that governments can do to improve the efficiency of its processes and allow needed stimulus to flow through is very welcome to our industry and supports much needed employment.”
Slattery said the CCAA has called on governments to ensure that any stimulus efforts are applied broadly across the building and construction industries to leverage the greatest social and economic impacts.
“We need governments to recognise that swift action to keep people employed in our industry is necessary and vital to building confidence in our economy,” Slattery said. “The injection of financial stimulus and speeding up government processes is vital to restoring that confidence.”