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Recovery needs more than building for its own sake

Queensland’s peak infrastructure lobby wants a COVID recovery agency to oversee the surge of government spending and protect against “building for its own sake”.

Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Priscilla Radice said governments had plenty of lists telling them what to build but the key to spending wisely would be taking the time to create a pipeline that was balanced between large and small projects across the state.

“Fundamentally, it can’t just be about building for its own sake, it has to be about growing the economy,” she said.

“You’ve got to have the right projects with the right multiplier effects, and really take the time to map those through because we’ve got to create jobs

“What we want to avoid is handing lots of money out to lots of different separate players early because there’s pressure to do it without really working through it.”

IAQ has been pushing for a centralised agency such as Queensland’s disaster recovery agency to “look at the system as a whole” and ensure the projects chosen were “actually lifting the economy”.

“The projects you need right now are shovel ready, they are going to create jobs, they are going to keep people employed and they’re going to go go go.

“Then the projects that you need in a couple of years time are more legacy projects that are going to catalyse private sector investment.

“If you put in the right railway line or the right digital connectivity then you’re going to create private sector investment in an innovation hub or a new property development or a new institution or whatever that might be.”

Ms Radice also urged governments to seize on record-low interest rates and borrow to fund infrastructure investment, dismissing the “hysteria” around government debt.

“The biggest thing at the moment is keeping people in jobs and keeping the economy alive,” she said.

Michael Wray, Courier Mail

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