QUEENSLAND'S first direct international data and telecommunications connection to global markets came a step closer this week with the completion of the cable landing station at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.

The cable landing station will house the connection point for the international submarine cable with landside communication networks and is a vital piece of infrastructure in a project that will deliver much needed diversity for Australia’s international communication needs. It is also expected to bring significant economic benefits for the Sunshine Coast and Queensland.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson was joined by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick on September 26 to mark the completion of the $7.2 million facility.

Mayor Jamieson said the completion of the cable landing station marked another milestone in the delivery of the Sunshine Coast international broadband network. 

“Unlike traditional cable landing stations that are normally non-descript buildings out of view from the general public, our landing station is designed to reflect council’s design vision for the Maroochydore city centre,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Our Sunshine Coast will offer the fastest data and telecommunications transmission from the eastern seaboard of Australia to Asia once the submarine cable comes ashore and is in service next year.

“It will help to position our region to become Australia’s first Digital Trade Hub – taking a region-wide approach to data and digital connectivity which will benefit a wide cross section of businesses and industries," Mayor Jamieson said.

“Projects such as the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network enable our region, its economy and our community to be well-positioned to respond to the rapidly evolving demands of the 21st century.

“When completed, this network will provide direct international data and telecommunications from the Sunshine Coast – the only location in Australia outside of Sydney and Perth to provide this direct international connectivity. 

“This will afford a significant step-change to the Sunshine Coast’s attractiveness as an investment location," he said.

“As the first local government in Australia to secure an investment in an international submarine cable, our council is yet again at the forefront of thinking outside the square, securing new revenue sources and pursuing opportunities to generate economic and employment growth as a major dividend for our residents, thus ensuring we continue to be Australia’s healthy, smart, creative region.”

DIGITAL BOOST TO REGIONAL GROWTH

The landing station is part of the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Cable Network being delivered through $15 million in support from the Queensland Government’s $175 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund and $20 million from Sunshine Coast Council.

Almost 865 jobs are a step closer as the landing-station for the $35 million Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network is completed.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project is facilitating the direct landing of a new undersea internet data cable at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast and will generate almost $1 billion for the state economy.

“This $7.2 million cable landing station is the gateway to better internet connectivity for Queensland businesses,” Ms Palaszczuk said. 

“Better connectivity means faster processing times for bigger data and more jobs. The cable will be able to provide Australia’s fastest data and telecommunications transmission speeds to Asia and the second fastest to the USA.

“It pitches Queensland firms to the forefront of the digital economy and will be a major drawcard for businesses and investment. We announced $15 million in funding to support this project in 2017 and we are now seeing the benefits.

“This is an investment that plans for the future and opens the opportunity for the jobs of the future here on the Sunshine Coast,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick said the Palaszczuk Government was pleased to partner with Sunshine Coast Council to deliver this transformative project for the region and the state.

“Our data needs will only increase as we continue to attract new investment to Queensland and further diversify our economy,” Mr Dick said.

“Landing this international broadband cable directly on the shores of the Sunshine Coast will ensure we’re able to maximise every opportunity the digital era presents for our state.”

Robert Linsdell, managing director of Vertiv (Australia and New Zealand) said through the development of the cable landing station, Sunshine Coast Council is taking a huge step towards future-proofing the region’s digital future.

“The importance of investing in the right internet infrastructure cannot be overstated, particularly as we enter a new era of IoT and smart cities, where reliable connectivity will be paramount to all aspects of our daily lives,” Mr Linsdell said.

The international broadband network is exactly the kind of infrastructure needed to continue that growth, enable increased connectivity and enhance the Sunshine Coast’s and Queensland’s position as a leading technology and business hub.

“Having a vision for these new technologies is one thing, but council is going further by making this important investment and bringing its vision to reality.”

This is one of the Sunshine Coast's list of what the Mayor calls the region's "innovative region-making projects".

These include::

  • The Sunshine Coast Solar Farm – which has enabled the Sunshine Coast Council to become the first government in mainland Australia to offset 100 percent of its electricity usage through renewable energy
  • The Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project – which includes delivery of a new longer, wider runway which will enable direct access to new markets in Asia, the Pacific and other locations in Australia when the runway is completed and in service in 2020
  • Maroochydore City Centre – Australia’s only greenfield CBD and the nation’s truly smart city with technology and digital infrastructure solutions built in from the ground up
  • The Automated Waste Collection System at the Maroochydore City Centre – Australia’s first CBD-wide underground automated waste collection system
  • Establishing Australia’s first tripartite blue carbon initiative which will provide new opportunities and a sustainable future to our Blue Heart - over 5000 hectares of largely agricultural land in the Maroochy River Catchment.

Fast facts:

  • Sunshine Coast Council is facilitating the landing of a new international submarine cable to Maroochydore by mid-2020.
  • The project includes the installation of a 550km undersea fibre optic cable which will connect the Sunshine Coast to the 9700km Japan-Guam-Australia (JGA) submarine cable.
  • The cable, which is laid on or buried under the sea floor, will connect to the cable landing station adjacent to the new Maroochydore City Centre.
  • The cable landing station has the capacity to cater for four submarine cables and houses 24 data cabinets.
  • Security is a key consideration and the building has 20 cameras.
  • The cable landing station has electricity supplied from two different sources to reduce the risk of power outages and two 500kva generators as a backup power supply.
  • The Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network project will help stimulate local business, generate new investment, and improve telecommunications diversity to Australia’s east coast.
  • The cable will help to future proof the Sunshine Coast’s telecommunications capacity and increase the region’s smart city capability by ensuring access to important data networks.
  • The Sunshine Coast International Broadband Submarine Cable Project is forecast to deliver up to 864 new jobs and stimulate $927 million in new investment in Queensland.

www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au or view the project webpage for more information.

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NEW Australian Brueau of Statistics (ABS) figures demonstrate that the challenges facing Australia’s building industry are mounting, Master Busilders Australia has warned.

Master Builders highlighted there has been a 7.3 percent drop in the value of building work approved across the country during July – the weakest monthly result since late 2016.

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said, “Building activity is being hit by low expectations around the economy’s short-term growth prospects. We want to see government policies such incentives for businesses to invest as well fast-tracking infrastructure construction to help kickstart  activity.” 

Master Builders Australia chief economist Shane Garrett said, “Last month saw the number of approvals for new homes falling to its lowest since January 2013. This was driven by a reduction of some 19.6 percent in new apartment/unit approvals compared with June.

"Approval volumes in the high-density part of the residential building market have not been this depressed since the middle of 2012.

“Up until recently, commercial building activity had been one of the economy’s good news stories. However, things are moving in the wrong direction here too. In July, the value of commercial building work receiving approval declined by 9.9 percent compared with the previous month,” Mr Garrett said.

“Right across the spectrum, there appears to be a real absence of confidence and today’s figures confirm that building activity is paying the price,

“People and businesses also need tangible evidence that things are moving forward. Getting work started on major infrastructure projects as soon as possible would visibly demonstrate that better days are ahead for our economy,” Mr Garrett said. 

“As well as offering an instant boost to flagging demand, the installation of new infrastructure unlocks possibilities and opportunities, and allows for the creation of more homes and new businesses – the nuts and bolts of economic growth." 

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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UNLESS AUSTRALIA arrests its flagging productivity, the economy will continue to decline, putting our standard of living at risk for generations to come, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), which is staging a special forum to tackle the issue.

“Productivity growth has continued to decline over the past 15 years,” IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway said.

“While we have had some successes through our Australian Small Business White Paper, the nation must make a much more concerted effort to boost SME productivity. 

“We will hold a special forum through the IPA Deakin SME Research Centre to focus on addressing this dire economic predicament," Mr Cponway said.

“In doing so we will be calling on Australian and international expertise, particularly from the US, to explore the creation of a sustainable ecosystem for SMEs.  This will be based on the five integral pillars of: financial capital; innovation; regulation; trade and internationalisation; and human capital.

“While some say that small business is the engine room of the economy, we believe that is an understatement; we believe that small business is the whole factory, plant and equipment.  Unless we stoke the fire beneath it, our future generations will suffer the consequences,” Mr Conway said..

The Small Business: Big Vision event will take place on September 4 and 5.  Keynote speakers include Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar,  and the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, .

International speakers include Eugene Cornelius Jnr, senior adviser to the USA’s Office of International Trade at the Small Business Administration; and Dr Winslow Sargeant, managing director of S&T and former Chief Counsel for Advocacy appointed by and reporting direct to US President Barack Obama, who is now the senior vice president of the International Council for Small Business.

www.publicaccountants.org.au

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THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s decision to award 18 square kilometres of land for gas production to APLNG-Armour Energy.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the granting of the licence with a domestic-only condition was an example of the state’s leading regulatory framework. 

“Gas sourced from the highly prospective land southwest of Chinchilla is destined for manufacturing businesses who need certainty around energy if they are to expand and employ more people,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

“Not only will this decision fuel Australia’s manufacturing industry but it’s another example of Queensland’s success in best-practice regulation in action – fast, effective and focussed on outcomes.

“The Queensland Government has been very proactive in its support of the gas industry and I applaud all parties for partnering together to deliver an Australian first to put downward pressure on energy for the domestic manufacturing market."

Queensland already supplies around 25 percent of the domestic east coast gas demand.

The Queensland resources sector now provides one in every five dollars in the Queensland economy, sustains one in eight Queensland jobs, and supports more than 14,200 businesses across the State –– all from 0.1 percent of Queensland’s land mass. 

www.qrc.org.au

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DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER Michael McCormack MP has launched the countdown to the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) Conference, to be staged on August 20-22 at Barooga, NSW.

SEGRA has been speaking out for regional Australia for 23 years. It is a critical forum where regional development practitioners, industry, researchers and government bring together their combined knowledge and ideas on regional futures from across Australia. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack told the attendees at the launch, “The regions of Australia have never been in a better position to take advantage of an Australian population that is looking away from our capital cities, looking to the regions for a better all-round life.” 

SEGRA conference convenor Kate Charters said the conferences had been stimulating interest in regional Australia and the unique challenges communities face - especially economically - since day one.

“SEGRA is Australia’s most credible independent voice on issues affecting regional Australia," Ms Charters said.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for Barooga and surrounds to showcase the region's diverse beauty and its business initiatives to a national audience but also for people from the region to access the national and international speakers on regional economic development.

"SEGRA is not ‘just another conference," Ms Charters said. "It is renowned for its willingness to take up real challenges and propose actions that understand the true character of economic development in regional Australia.

“This is why SEGRA is branded 'the think tank with tangible outcomes'. We look forward to supporting Barooga this year and sharing the region’s best tourism offerings with more than 250 delegates from around the country.”

Mayor of Moira Shire Councill, Cr Libro Mustica said, "Bringing close to 200 delegates representing all levels of government, regional development organisations and research institutes to the region it is an outstanding opportunity to showcase the regions businesses and tourist attractions as well as economic stimulus to accommodation providers, eateries, retail businesses and tourist attractions." 

Berrigan Shire Council.Mayor, Cr Matthew Hannan said, "Our beautiful environment and strong economy were key elements in winning the hosting rights as was our ability to work collaboratively in driving new initiatives."

NSW Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the NSW Government was committed to investing in the regional conferencing industry and was proud to support SEGRA 2019.

”We know how important the business events sector is to turbocharging the regional economy, with conferences and meetings bringing additional business to local restaurants, cafés, venues, attractions, and accommodation providers,” Mr Ayres said.

“In fact, overnight business visitors spend, on average, $237 per night in NSW – nearly double those of overnight leisure visitors. They are also more likely to return for a future holiday with family or friends, so this is a fantastic win for Barooga in more ways than one.”

SEGRA 2019 is supported by the NSW Government, Victorian Government, Destination NSW, Australian Government, Berrigan Shire, Moira Shire, Cobram Barooga Business and Tourism, Cobram Barooga Golf Club, RDA Murray and RDA Hume.

"SEGRA would like to thank the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, Berrigan and Moira Shires, RDAs Murray and Hume, Barooga Sporties, Cobram Barooga Business and Tourism for their support of the conference," Ms Charters said.

SEGRA will be held at Barooga on August 20-22 and its theme this year is Rivers of Opportunity: Activating Your Potential.

www.segra.com.au

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THE Queensland Government’s approval of mining leases to extend the life of the Cameby Downs Mine in the Surat Basin secures jobs, exports and royalties for the state and confirms the long-term role for coal, the Queensland Resources Council said.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the mining leases were for continuation of operations at the open cut thermal coal mine operation, extending the mine life to 75 years and increasing the extraction approval to 3.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of run-of-mine (ROM) coal, up from 2.8 mtpa, on the western Darling Downs. 

Cameby Downs employs 140 staff, he said.

Mr Macfarlane said the resources sector already contributed to the Western Downs Regional Council area, accounting for $374 million or 10 percent of the area’s gross regional product and 2006 full-time equivalent or 12 percent of the local workforce.

“The mine will operate under strict environmental approvals, detailed in its environmental authority, and will implement progressive rehabilitation,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Cameby Downs is near the Kogan Creek mine, which is owned by the Queensland Government as the owner of CS Energy and operator of Kogan Creek power station. 

“Whether it is the government-owned Kogan Creek mine, Cameby Downs, other existing mines in the Surat and Bowen basins or those proposed in the Galilee Basin, Queensland depends upon them. Coal currently delivers $43.4 billion or 13 percent of the state’s gross regional product and more than 215,000 or 9 percent of full-time equivalent jobs in Queensland,” Mr Macfarlane said.

www.qrc.org.au

Link to QRC’s 2017-18 report on the economic contribution of the resources sector to the Western Downs local government area https://www.qrc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/WesternDowns_LGA_2018.pdf

Link to QRC’s 2017-18 report on the economic contribution of coal to Queensland https://www.qrc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2018_Coal_Contributions.pdf

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NEW DAMS can create almost 15,000 regional jobs and $4.85 billion in production in northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, based on the work of Austalia’s science agency, CSIRO.

​The Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment, completed by the CSIRO, found 7250 jobs could be created in the Mitchell catchment in Queensland, 2845 jobs in the Darwin catchment in the NT, and 4700 jobs in the Fitzroy catchment in WA.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud said he was keen to see this type of infrastructure development create the opportunity for indigenous jobs in agriculture. 

​“This is really exciting news for agriculture and potentially for our indigenous communities in these areas,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This could create permanent jobs and a secure economic future in Indigenous communities in northern Australia. Our Indigenous people have a deep understanding of the land and the water and this fits well with sustainable agriculture.”

The CSIRO report confirmed that in the Mitchell region, about 7250 jobs could be created and $1.5 billion a year could be added to the region through four dams releasing 2800 gigalitres a year in 85 percent of years. This could support 140,000 hectares of year-round irrigation, growing two crops a year.

In the Fitzroy catchment, it would be possible to create 4700 jobs through $750 million of farm production created by pumping 1700gl from the Fitzroy and Margaret Rivers to grow 1600,000 ha of once-a-year crop – CSIRO names cotton as an option – although the reality was likely to be less than that given cultural, environmental and legislative factors.

In the Darwin catchment, CSIRO reported about 2500 jobs and $2.3 billion for the region could be created through two potential instream surface water storages at Mount Bennett on the Finniss River (343gl capacity) and the upper Adelaide River (298gl).

These dams could release 436gl at the dam wall in 85 percent of years, growing 40,000ha of mangoes or 60,000ha of trickle-irrigation vegetables. Another 345 jobs and $320 million could come from using 35gl of groundwater to grow an extra 7800 ha of trickle irrigation vegetable production.

“Dams and other water projects can bring thousands of jobs to areas where employment is hard to find. Dams grow food, jobs, exports and wealth,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Projects like these can add $4.85 billion to Australia’s farm production and help get us to the NFF’s (National Farmers Federation) ambitious goal of $100 billion of gross farm production by 2030,” he said.

“In the modern age, we can do this in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

“In my home state of Queensland, some 7250 jobs could be created in the Mitchell catchment. It would transform the region. The Pinnacles dam site on the Mitchell and the Rookwood dam site on the Walsh could provide 65 percent of the water CSIRO says could be harvested from the Mitchell catchment.

“The Pinnacles site alone could grow 70,000 ha of spray-irrigated sugarcane and mungbeans.

“Adding 2500 jobs would be huge for the Darwin region. Darwin is ideally placed to export fresh produce to Asia and with dams, could take full advantage of this,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Adding 4700 jobs to the Fitzroy catchment in northern WA would kick-start wealth and jobs. With vision we can do something great here.

“The Coalition has shown vision by commissioning CSIRO to do this work and now we have a road map to food, jobs, exports and wealth for these regions.”

www.csiro.au

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