The Queensland government has invested $8.8 million in funding for the Bundaberg Gas Pipeline.
This new investment will increase funding for the pipeline from $11 million to almost $20 million, in a bid to build the port into an economic hub for the Wide Bay region.
Australian Gas Networks Limited will design, deliver and operate the pipeline and support job development now, and into the future.
Queensland premier Ms Palaszczuk said the Government had cemented the future of the Bundaberg Gas Pipeline and reached a fixed-price contract of $19.8 million.
“We know this project is important for local industry in Bundaberg and Maryborough,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“This is a 26 kilometre pipeline and every centimetre and every dollar of the $19.8 million investment is an investment in jobs.
“Construction of the pipeline itself will support 45 jobs, including up to 15 local construction jobs, and support already planned private investment such as Knauf Plasterboard.
“Essential infrastructure like the gas pipeline means Knauf and others will be able to benefit into the future.”
Member for Bundaberg, Leanne Donaldson, said Knauf was set to invest $70 million in its plant at the port.
“We’re talking about support for 200 construction jobs along with 40 fulltime jobs over two years associated with Knauf,” Ms Donaldson said.
“This could have a flow on effect of 450 longer term jobs in the Bundaberg community.
“Having extra funding secured for an agreement worth almost $20 million is great news for our local community and our local economy.”
Ms Palaszczuk said State Development Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, and Ports Minister, Mark Bailey, would also investigate creating a State Development Area at the Port of Bundaberg to facilitate economic development and jobs growth.
Dr Lynham said the investigation into establishing a State Development Area around the Port of Bundaberg would include land on the western side of the river.
He said an SDA could open the way for significant investment and job opportunities for the regional centre in agriculture and other industries.
“The investigation will look at industry opportunities, land use, infrastructure and transport requirements and the environment,” he said.
“The opportunity is to increase the port’s commodity base to include minerals.
“We’re talking about increasing throughput from an average 254,000 tonnes a year for the last five years to an estimated 1,000,000 tonnes a year.”
Mr Bailey said the Port of Bundaberg was well-placed to serve increased commodity bases.
“The Bundaberg port is the next port north of Brisbane and is the state’s only other east coast trading port that is outside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area,” he said.
“Currently the port exports raw sugar, some molasses, wood pellets and silica sands and establishing a State Development Area would assist expansion of that resource base.”
Member for Maryborough, Mr Bruce Saunders, said the government would work closely with the port authority, local councils, industry and the wider community to ensure all issues are fully explored and investigated.
“The regional councils in their Wide Bay Burnett Economic Development Strategy 2014-2019 have made it clear that port expansion is a priority project,” he said.
“This is good news for local industry in both Maryborough and Bundaberg looking to export goods and produce through the port.”
The Bundaberg Regional Council has also welcomed the announcement of the funding and Mayor, Mal Forman, said the the potential for a State Development Area around the Port of Bundaberg was great news for the Wide Bay region.
“Securing additional funding for an agreement worth almost $20 million is a massive coup for the Bundaberg region,” Mayor Forman said.
“The 26-kilometre pipeline from Bundaberg to the port will be critical in boosting local industry and providing jobs in the local community,”
“Council looks forward to working closely with the State Government and the port authority to explore ways of increasing traffic through the port and promoting greater economic development.”
“We want to see the port reach its full potential to a point where we are exporting a broader range of goods and produce. At the moment, the port has extremely low usage, rating somewhere less than a 10 per cent utilisation mark.
“I’m sure today’s these announcements will provide investors with the confidence they need to seriously consider commercial development in our local region.”