Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers.

Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers.

By Gail Sellers, Mayor Of Gladstone

POWERED by the industrial might of Gladstone city, the Gladstone region has emerged from a period of unprecedented growth associated with the ongoing construction and development of three LNG facilities on Curtis Island.

Of the estimated $60 billion invested via the three LNG projects under way, approximately $30 billion has been directly invested in infrastructure under construction in the Gladstone region (pipelines and LNG plants).

This is in addition to the $4 billion project for the construction of the new rail loop and coal export terminal at Wiggins Island, currently under way.

These projects have led to a number of significant housing developments across the region, particularly in the ‘growth corridor’ immediately surrounding the Gladstone metropolitan area and the neighbouring towns of Boyne Island/Tannum Sands and Calliope.

The region’s growth during the past two and half years has resulted in about an additional 3,000 properties being developed and completed within the region, making it one of the fastest developing regions in Queensland in recent years.

Economically, the arrival of LNG has provided significant benefits for the community as business, industries and support services meet demands brought about by such rapid expansion.

All aspects of these major projects, such as the construction of three 2,000-person accommodation villages on Curtis Island, provided an extraordinary level of work for local businesses.

The benefits were experienced not only by the companies who provided the accommodation units, but also the transport and logistics companies who moved them to Curtis Island and the contractors responsible for their construction and maintenance.

The increased resident population brought about by the inf lux of workers for the construction of these major facilities (some 14,000 at peak) has also been the catalyst for an increase in the need for a range of services including health, education, recreation, shopping, housing, professional services and support and logistical services.

The population increase has affected the region’s housing market with an initial shortage having been created by the unprecedented growth.

This caused some difficulties related to increased housing prices and higher rents but also created an escalation in the housing market across a diverse range of dwellings including houses, town houses, units, flats and apprentice and student housing.

As workforce levels have reached their peak and construction workforce levels begun to reduce, the levels of housing prices and rentals have started to normalise.

This adjustment will continue over the next one to two years as construction works on the major projects come to completion and all projects enter their operational phases.

Overall, the growth associated with the arrival of the LNG industry to the Gladstone region has resulted in more and better facilities and services for the region’s residents.

Projects of significance that coincided with the arrival of the LNG industry are enhanced airport facilities (upgraded to jet standard and now with an ILS system), more frequent air services and increased destinations available, increased patronage of existing facilities and businesses, growth in accommodation, shopping and retail businesses, additional industry support businesses, and increased educational and training opportunities for youth.

In addition the $42 million CQ Coal Exporters East Shores maritime precinct development is currently under construction and due for completion this year. This is being fully funded by the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET) project and Gladstone Ports Corporation.

There are many new jobs which were created by the construction phase of the LNG sector in Gladstone, including those in the electrical field, from contractors and service providers through to apprentices with major contractor Bechtel.

We expect opportunities for contractors, electricians, and electrical and instrumentation technicians will remain over the long-term, albeit scaled down from the original demands as local businesses focus on moving into the many support roles for the LNG industry that will exist as long as the LNG plants remain operational in our area. This industry has broadened the economic base in our region by adding a significant growth industry to the many other industries already operational locally.

As for Council, our attention now focuses on continuing the co-operative relationships forged with LNG during the construction stage of these world class projects and continuing the development of associated industries for the betterment of our region and of our residents.