Capricorn region fought floods and ‘fake’ news

THE economic impact of major flooding in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Debbie in April was bad enough without the economic hit that evolved from inaccurate and sensational media coverage of Queensland’s Capricornia region.

That was the overwhelming view of business leaders in the Rockhampton region, from a business survey conducted by Capricorn Enterprise with its members. Nominated as “the one thing that must be done better in future” was correct media reporting of the situation. 

The survey suggested sensationalist media reporting did more economic damage to businesses than the actual flood waters “and media outlets need to be held to account”.

Survey recipients also said the Rockhampton Airport closure had huge financial impacts on all businesses.

About 90 percent of survey respondents stated that they were able to trade during the Fitzroy River flood with all respondents stating they suffered income loss during the event. 

About 80 percent of survey respondents were Capricorn Coast – Yeppoon, Emu Park, Great Keppel Island – businesses and 20 percent were Rockhampton businesses.

During the two week period from March 27 to  April 9, 25 percent of businesses surveyed lost between $50,000 to $200,000 in revenue, with 50 percent suffering losses of between $10,000 and $50,000. Another 25 percent of businesses surveyed lost up to $10,000 in trade.

Surveyed businesses stated that the two main reasons for loss of trade and financial hardship was due to cancellation of flights because of the Rockhampton Airport closure and “media mis-information and/or sensationalism”.

“These results accurately reflect the public comments made by Capricorn Enterprise during the event as our peak holiday season was greatly affected by both southern media sensationalism and closure of the Rockhampton Airport,” Capricorn Enterprise chief executive Mary Carroll said.

“Not surprisingly, additional marketing is the major request from our members following the Fitzroy River flood,” she said.

Capricorn Enterprise worked closely with tourism operators and took part in a whole-of-state $2 million Tourism and Events Queensland campaign during April and May in the key markets of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and regional Queensland.

Ms Carroll said, “Studio 10 (Channel 10 network) was the only prime time breakfast program that helped us get the correct message out on Friday April 7, 2017, to a national audience, with their four-minute story then being viewed on Facebook 118,000 times with 1,424 shares and 100 affirmative comments.

“Channel 7’s Sunrisestated on air that they would return to our destination to deliver a positive news story and we will keep them to that promise. My comment demanding factual reporting on the Sunrise Facebook page on Saturday, April 1, received over 100,000 Likes, 267 shares and over 100 affirmative comments.  When is mainstream metropolitan media going to listen to the people?” 




Townsville gets Australia’s first City Deal

ALL THREE LEVELS of government have agreed on and released an Implementation Plan for the Townsville City Deal.

The Townsville City Deal – the first in Australia, described as the roadmap for the city’s future – has had its implementation plan agreed and approved by Assistant Federal Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor, Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill.

The plan outlines milestones over the next five years and maps out the key contributions of each government to deliver on the commitments.

Major projects covered by the Townsville City Deal include North Queensland Stadium, Townsville Water Security Taskforce, Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre, and the business cases for the Port of Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade and Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC).

The concept behind the City Deal is that it’s a full package of initiatives and investments that bring together all three levels of government and the private sector,” Mr Taylor said.

“All of the commitments in this roadmap are geared towards growing the economy of Townsville and strengthening Townsville as a prosperous and lifestyle-rich city. Following the agreement of the City Deal in December, our next goal has been to map out exactly what each government will do and when.”

Ms Trad said the Townsville City Deal was already delivering for North Queensland.

“We are committed to fully implementing Australia’s first ever City Deal in Townsville because we know that it will deliver jobs and economic growth across the entire region,” Ms Trad said. 

“A number of City Deal projects are already well advanced – expressions of interest have opened for work on the North Queensland Stadium, the Townsville Water Security Taskforce is in place and the board of the Townsville-based Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia has been announced.”

Mayor Hill said timeframes and implementation details would be refined as progress was made.

“This plan sets out a clear path for Townsville’s future prosperity and I thank our local stakeholders who are representing the community at the partnership forums to keep the City Deal firmly focused on what Townsville needs,” Cr Hill said.

“These partnership forums will also help identify new opportunities and attract other investment to complement Townsville City Deal initiatives.”

The Implementation Plan milestones include:

North Queensland Stadium – managing contractor to be announced in the second quarter of 2017;

Townsville Water Security Taskforce – delivery of interim report by the second quarter of 2017;

Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre – refinement of feasibility study by the third quarter of 2017;

Channel Capacity Upgrade - business case completed by the second quarter of 2017;

Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC) – completion of business case by the end of 2017.

A report on the progress against key milestones will be released each year. The first will be released before the end of 2017.




All aboard Australia with $20 billion on the rails

THE FEDERAL Government is committing $20 billion to rail investment across the country, as announced in the 2017 Federal Budget.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby said the investment aimed to “cut congestion in cities, grow the regions and create thousands of new jobs”.

The largest part of the investment is $10 billion for a National Rail Program for urban and regional passenger rail projects that “reduce travel times, connect people to jobs and opportunity and provide families and businesses with affordable options on where to live and invest” according to Mr Turnbull.  

There is an additional $8.4 billion to build the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, Australia’s biggest rail project in 100 years.

“That will build a dedicated high productivity rail freight corridor also saving lives by getting freight off roads and onto rail,” Mr Turnbull said.

Other commitments to rail in the 2017–18 Budget include $500 million to upgrade regional rail networks in Victoria; $792 million for Perth Metronet; $30 million towards development of a business case for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link; $20.2 million for Murray Basin Rail building on a previous commitment; and $20 million to progress business cases for faster rail connections between major cities and their surrounding regional centres.


The Federal Government’s $10 billion National Rail Program is designed to progress the its Smart Cities agenda.

Mr Turnbull said urban rail projects “have the capacity to be city-shaping by providing opportunities for urban regeneration, unlocking land for affordable housing, and promoting better integration between land use and transport planning”.

“Our investment in passenger rail will benefit hundreds of thousands of commuters each day through cutting congestion and travel times while improving access to jobs, education and vital services.”

The Prime Minister said there were several once-in–a-generation, city-shaping rail projects around the country at different stages of development.

“These transformational rail projects have long planning and construction lead times, with high capital costs,” he said. The program would build on the current work the government is doing in partnership with state governments to develop urban rail plans for our five largest cities and their surrounding regions.

Mr Turnbull said the government’s record $10 billion investment in rail was in addition to $792 million for Perth Metronet and $30 million for the development of a business case for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, a project that is expected to enhance Melbourne's urban rail network and role as international gateway.

The transport corridor between Melbourne's CBD and Melbourne Airport has been identified by Infrastructure Australia as one of the most heavily congested in Melbourne, reducing the amenity, liveability and commuter experience of the surrounding suburbs. 


The Prime Minister said the government’s National Rail Program provided regional Australia with a fair share of the $10 billion commitment “to deliver faster, more reliable rail connections both between regional cities and our capitals, and within regions themselves”.

“Better rail services have the potential to completely transform our regional communities, allowing easier access to jobs, health services and affordable housing,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The government's initial focus will be regional rail in Victoria, with an additional $500 million in the 2017–18 Budget to build a better regional rail network with improvements to the North-East Line, the Gippsland Line, and the Geelong Line, as well as undertaking a study into improving the Shepparton Line.

Mr Turnbull said faster rail connections provided a means to rejuvenate regional centres “while mitigating population growth pressures in our major cities including congestion, housing affordability, job accessibility and liveability”.

Under the 2017–18 Budget's Faster Rail initiative, the government has committed $20 million to support the development of up to three formal business cases for faster rail connections between major cities and regional centres.

The Federal Government will call for submissions from state governments and the private sector later this year.

“The business cases will then be considered for potential project funding in future years.”


The Federal Government is to finance the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project by a combination of an additional $8.4 billion equity investment in the Australian Rail Track Corporation and a public private partnership for the most complex elements of the project.

Inland Rail will provide a high-capacity freight link between Melbourne and Brisbane through regional Australia to better connect products to domestic and international markets.

“The Inland Rail project will drive national productivity and reduce the number of trucks in our cities and on our regional roads,” Mr Turnbull said. “The project will sustain thousands of jobs, with up to 16,000 direct and indirect jobs to be supported at the peak of construction.”

The 126km section from Toowoomba to Kagaru, including large scale tunnelling, will be delivered through a Public Private Partnership. Under this delivery arrangement, the private sector will design, build, finance and maintain this section of the railway over a long-term concession period, the Prime Minister said.

“These funding arrangements will provide effective risk management and harness innovative design solutions for this nationally significant project, which is the biggest Commonwealth rail construction project since the transcontinental rail link across the Nullabor was finished 100 years ago.

“Inland Rail is a national project that provides an opportunity for the states and the Commonwealth to work together to drive the nation’s prosperity through regional development and strategic transport investment.

“Construction of this transformational project will start this year,” he said.

The Federal Government previously committed almost $900 million towards planning and land acquisition.


Mr Turnbull said Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List made a clear case for the need for further investment in public transport and freight rail across Australia.

“That is why the government is already partnering with State Governments early in the planning process to progress transformative rail projects,” he said.

In Queensland, the Federal Government has committed funding to progress planning for Cross River Rail. In New South Wales, the government is partnering with the Berejiklian Government “to investigate rail options for Western Sydney to connect the future Western Sydney Airport to population and job centres, and unlock affordable housing, and further investment in the region”.

“These commitments build on current Australian Government funding for significant rail projects, such as Gold Coast Light Rail in Queensland, the Forrestfield Airport Link in Perth, Flinders Link in Adelaide, Capital Metro in Canberra, and the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal in Sydney,” Mr Turnbull said.




Consult Australia wants government to capitalise on low cost of borrowing.

BUILT ENVIRONMENT industry body – Consult Australia, representing 49,000 consulting firms – is calling on governments to overcome the financial obstacles that prevent infrastructure development. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Extremely Unhelpful report, published by Consult Australia, urges government to embrace debt, utilise value capture as a fair form of finance, recycle assets, develop road-user charging and develop policy to grow private sector investment.  

“Infrastructure is a tool that turns short-term debt into future surplus by increasing productivity,” Consult Australia CEO Megan Motto said. “With a triple-A credit rating and historically low bond rates there has never been a better time to invest in infrastructure, for this generation to take responsibility for the next by utilising low borrowing costs and investing in future economic growth.

“Our discussion paper seeks to showcase existing financing options, stimulate debate about future financing options, and above all, impress on leaders the opportunity of now.” 

Along with making better use of existing infrastructure assets through better urban planning or privatisation, the paper also suggests options for taxation reform, public finance, private finance and integrated funding frameworks. 

Consult Australia’s report calls for:

Taxation Reform including hypothecation; ensuring users contribute the full costs of their travel choices; environmental impact charges covering congestion or emission; demand-sensitive transport pricing; and rebalancing capital investment against recurrent expenditure.

Public Finance including Tax Incremental Financing to generate and use tax from increasing property values; Employer Transport Levies to fund the transportation of employees to work; Green Banking to grow contributions towards environmentally sensitive developments; and Infrastructure Bonds to provide access to large pools of retail investment funds like superannuation.

Private Finance including Direct Tolling of new infrastructure involving user-charging; Private-Public Partnerships, alliance contracting and rebalanced risk sharing; and Land Value Capture with the developer financing local improvements from the increased value.

Integrated Funding Framework to hypothecate new revenues to transport investment; Cost Recovery with transport users covering the costs that they impose; Road Pricing and Real Public Transport Fares to provide additional revenues to improve public transport services; Phasing Out Indirect Charges to reduce reliance on indirect taxes to improve funding transparency.