Townsville City Deal
The Townsville City Deal is a 15 year commitment between the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia (the Commonwealth) the Government of the State of Queensland (the Queensland Government) and the Townsville City Council to a collective program of planning, reform and investment for Townsville. The commitments made under the City Deal are consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland to establish and implement City Deals, which was agreed on 10 November 2016.
The Townsville City Deal was signed on 9 December 2016. It outlines a series of commitments that all three tiers of government will work together to deliver, as well as a series of future opportunities for further collaboration, to deliver a transformational impact for Townsville.
2018 Annual Progress Report
The Townsville City Deal is a 15-year commitment that aims to support a prosperous economic future for Townsville. It will position Townsville as a vibrant, liveable and innovative city in Northern Australia.
After just two years, Australia’s first City Deal has already delivered transformative outcomes for Townsville, giving people more reasons to visit and do business in the city.
Key achievements under the City Deal in 2018 have included:
- Launch of the Townsville Smart City Plan – Smart Townsville.
- Commencement of construction on Stage 1 of the Haughton Pipeline, delivery of the Final Report of the Townsville Water Security Taskforce, and funding secured for Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipeline subject to the outcomes of a business case assessment.
- Funding confirmed for the Port of Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade, giving construction of the $193 million project the green light.
- Establishment of the Townsville Industrial Development Board and acceleration of the State Development Area to explore opportunities for new industrial development.
- Funding confirmed for the preservation of the Townsville Eastern Access Railway Corridor.
The 2018 Annual Progress Report provides further details on these achievements and progress of all 16 commitments under the City Deal throughout 2018. It can be read in conjunction with the first Annual Report to provide a complete picture of progress since the signing of the City Deal.
The Report highlights the benefits of a genuine collaboration between the three levels of government and the local community, and the significant outcomes that can be delivered through this approach.
On a sombre note, 2019 began with a large monsoonal weather system over North Queensland, which resulted in the biggest floods experienced by Townsville on record. Thousands of properties and critical infrastructure sustained damage. The North Queensland and statewide impact has been significant, and economic recovery will take time and require a dedicated coordinated effort. The continuing delivery of the Townsville City Deal will have a vital role in supporting Townsville’s local enterprise and industry to get back on track as soon as possible.
Engaging the Local Community
The unprecedented rainfall event impacting Townsville this January/February has been felt by every facet of the community. The City Deal will continue to play a critical role in not only facilitating the economic recovery of the community, but in achieving long-term sustainable economic outcomes.
During 2018 the City Deal has achieved some significant milestones, with the community seeing:
- The North Queensland Stadium really starting to take shape as the construction continues to provide local jobs.
- The finalisation and launch of Smart Townsville, a community-led partnership to maximise digital connectivity and improve services.
- Commitment of the final $75 million required for the Port of Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade – the first stage in the development of a sustainable port that improves the efficiency of freight moving in and out of North Queensland.
- The acquisition of land within the State Development Area and the inaugural meeting of the Townsville Industrial Development Board – leading attraction of industries to Townsville to further develop the freight and port-related businesses.
- Progression of the Cooperative Research Centre for Development in Northern Australia (CRCNA) – after establishing an office in Townsville, the CRCNA has commenced funding a number of industry-driven projects which will create local jobs.
- Delivery of the City Bus Station – construction is well underway with the Bus Station set to open in the first half of 2019.
- Appointment of a Defence Sector Strategy Advisor by Townsville City Council – maximising both opportunities for local businesses to work with Defence and lobbying for additional Defence services from Townsville.
- Commitment of funding for Stage 2 of the new water pipeline subject to the outcomes of a business case – which will provide long term water security for Townsville.
More is yet to come, and the Local Partnership Forum looks forward to working closely with the Townsville City Deal Executive Board to ensure the community’s expectations and requirements are key drivers of future initiatives.
Chair – Local Partnership Forum
Focus on: North Queensland Stadium
The North Queensland Stadium continues to deliver for the people of Townsville. Jointly funded by the Queensland Government and Australian Government, with support from Townsville City Council, the project has progressed significantly in 2018, with over 33 percent of the construction completed since the main stadium build commenced on 1 May 2018.
So far, 42 of the project’s 52 trade packages have been awarded to local businesses and over 99 percent of the 381,884 construction work hours have been completed by local workers. There are 42 apprentices and trainees currently working on the project, including eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. The total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander construction workforce participation rate is above 15 percent and over 60,000 of the training hours were completed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. Expected to support 750 FTE jobs during the design and construction phases, the skills and expertise gained by these local workers will benefit Townsville beyond the stadium's completion ahead of the start of the 2020 National Rugby League Premiership Season.
The Stadium’s architecture has a distinctly local flavour with a horseshoe cantilever roof inspired by Queensland’s iconic pandanus palm, and designed to account for the city’s tropical climate and the risk of cyclones. The design was a deliberate effort on the part of architects and engineers to fit in with Townsville’s unique landscape and casual, relaxed lifestyle.
Focus on: Smart Townsville
Townsville City Council has delivered on a key commitment in the City Deal by planning and commencing implementation of Smart Townsville – a community-led partnership to deliver a Smart City.
After engagement with industry leaders, community groups, businesses and academia, the Smart Townsville strategy was launched in November 2018.
Smart Townsville incorporates the principles of a Smart City. Working through the Local Partnership Forum, Council plans to deliver key projects within five core pillars:
- Delivering an open and engaged Council.
- Implementing a citizen-centric Council.
- Facilitating entrepreneurship and economic activation.
- Focus on place-making and liveability.
- Delivering best practice infrastructure and asset management.
Smart Townsville includes the delivery of a City Dashboard providing community-facing data supporting continual conversations, collaborations and active partnerships. The City Dashboard will directly align with the requests and requirements derived from residents and the business community. It also means that interactions with Council will be much simpler and more convenient.
Through Council’s Smart Precinct NQ, Council will stimulate the creation of jobs in innovation, technology and business incubation. The Precinct will provide a centre to support businesses and entrepreneurs to prototype, test and scale innovative business models.
Smart Townsville will attract new employment and diversify the local economy by building on natural advantages, embracing digital solutions, supporting local start-ups and developing an appropriately skilled workforce. It also establishes mechanisms to attract and grow business, stimulate the economy and improve the value proposition of the area for people looking for new opportunities.
This partnership will contribute towards a stronger community, job creation and will propel the city forward, transitioning to a more knowledge‑based industry.
Focus on: Turbocharging industrial development
In 2018, the Queensland Government established the Townsville Industrial Development Board and tasked it with attracting and facilitating development in Townsville’s medium and heavy industrial precincts, and guiding their long-term growth.
The Board, whose members have a proven track-record of championing regional economic growth, includes representatives from the private sector, Council and government.
The Board held its inaugural meeting on 25 September 2018 and will focus its efforts on developing Townsville’s Southern Industrial Corridor. The corridor contains three large industrial precincts: the Port of Townsville, the Townsville State Development Area (SDA) and the Woodstock Industrial Precinct. These precincts are linked by the Flinders rail and road corridor, are connected to gas, water and power infrastructure, and have direct access to the Port of Townsville and the Bruce Highway. These key features are a clear demonstration of Townsville’s potential for industrial development opportunities.
Assisting the Board in its efforts to ramp up industrial development in Townsville, the Queensland Government acquired 810 hectares within the SDA. An Expression of Interest for the purchase and development of land located along the Port access road, into a medium to large scale industrial complex, closed in December 2018. Additionally, changes were proposed to the SDA’s development scheme that will result in a simpler, clearer framework to deliver growth and development. The draft scheme was open for public comment from November to December 2018.
Focus on: Townsville Water Security Taskforce
Providing Townsville with water security has been a top-priority for the City Deal. In March 2017, the independent Townsville Water Security Taskforce was established to investigate short, medium and long‑term solutions for water security.
The Taskforce delivered an Interim Report on 30 June 2017, which made several short and medium term recommendations for immediate action and suggested a number of long term options. These recommendations covered both infrastructure and non-infrastructure strategies for improving Townsville’s water security.
The Queensland Government subsequently committed $225 million to implement the main findings of the Taskforce. With this funding, Townsville City Council is now leading the delivery of the $215 million Stage 1 Haughton Pipeline (currently under construction) and the $10 million Water Smart Package (formerly the Community Water Transition Support Package), as well as other infrastructure solutions recommended by the Taskforce, such as a recycled water re-use scheme.
The Taskforce delivered its Final Report on 30 October 2018, which considered updated information from recent studies into long-term water security options, levels of service modelling, and residual risks and emerging opportunities.
The Australian Government has now committed up to $5 million to undertake a business case for Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipeline, and subject to the findings of the business case, up to $195 million to fund this project.
Economic Indicators for Townsville
The success of the Townsville City Deal is monitored through a suite of indicators that measure employment, economic activity and amenity. The tracking of these metrics provides an indication of the health of Townsville’s economy, progress against 2016 baseline figures, and where investments may need to be tailored to reflect emerging economic trends. This ongoing assessment is complemented by the monitoring of progress on individual commitments, in line with the Implementation Plan.
Key City Deal commitments such as the North Queensland Stadium and the Haughton Pipeline project are clearly having a positive impact on the economy with improvements in jobs and youth unemployment rates. There has also been noticeable improvement in new private investment, with an increase of over $70 million in the value of residential and non-residential building approvals for the year.
Not all of the indicators have improved since the previous annual report and it is likely there will be ongoing variations from year to year. The City Deal is a 15-year plan for sustainable economic improvement, and the most important analysis will be to see positive trends emerge over the lifespan of the Deal.
Further data for Townsville and other cities across Australia is available through the National Cities Performance Framework on the Australian Government’s Smart Cities website.
Other Activities in Townsville
The City Deal continues to stimulate a growing confidence in the economic opportunities for Townsville. In the last 12 months, generating sustainable economic growth has been a key focus of City Deal partners, enabling the continuing development of long term ongoing local jobs.
Townsville City Council has pursued private sector investment into the city, from both domestic and international markets. Townsville City Council continues to work with the Queensland Government’s commitment of $3.1 million and Imperium3 – an international joint venture led by Boston Energy and Innovation, Magnis Resources and Charge CCCV LLC – to deliver a feasibility study for a $2 billion 15GWh lithium ion battery plant at the new Woodstock Industrial Precinct (also known as Lansdown Industrial Estate). This project has the potential to provide up to 1000 direct jobs in the manufacturing facility, an additional 1000 jobs in the direct support businesses, and up to 5000 new jobs in the downstream equipment manufacturing sectors.
Implementation of the Townsville 2020 Master Plan, which provides a clear vision for the city, is well underway. The Master Plan includes proposed projects that will attract more people to the city, such as the new saltwater lagoon on The Strand, adventure tourism and lighting spectaculars on Castle Hill, creation of outdoor recreation opportunities on Mount Louisa and Central Park, and a new kids water play facility at Riverway.
Construction begins in early 2019 on the precinct around the North Queensland Stadium, which includes opportunities for a high-end hotel, training field, Centre of Excellence, and a waterfront promenade connecting the new stadium, through Central Park, to the CBD. Construction of the promenade will be completed ahead of the commencement of the 2020 NRL Premiership Season and opening of the North Queensland Stadium.
Townsville City Council continues its progress in the Waterfront Priority Development Area by releasing an Open Call for a Project Partner to masterplan and develop the North Rail Yards. To generate urban renewal and local jobs, Council will partner with the private sector to revitalise and redevelop the North Rail Yards site with the potential for residential, commercial, new public open spaces and walkways.
Other key projects advanced in 2018 that contribute to activation of the city through enhancement of lifestyle or creation of local jobs include the Mater Hospital expansion, the new Australian Taxation Office building, the Castle Town Shopping Centre extension and the Eliott Springs Residential Subdivision.
The Queensland Government continues to support jobs growth in Townsville and complement the commitments made under the City Deal. Following a successful trade mission to South Korea in 2018, the Sun Metals Corporation parent company Korea Zinc announced that they will be proceeding with a $300 million expansion of their Townsville zinc refinery. This will increase the capacity of the existing plant from 220,000 tonnes per year to 270,000 tonnes per year and will create 350 construction jobs and 100 ongoing positions when completed.
As Townsville and north Queensland recovers from the catastrophic floods, a continuing priority and focus in 2019 will be on ongoing efforts to support the local community and help facilitate business, industry and regional economic recovery and renewal.
Over the next 12 months, the Australian Government, Queensland Government and Townsville City Council will continue to work collaboratively to deliver outcomes under the Townsville City Deal, including:
- Continue construction of the North Queensland Stadium in time for the opening of the 2020 National Rugby League Premiership Season.
- Finalise the Townsville Health and Knowledge Development Strategy.
- Complete construction of the new Townsville City Bus Station.
- Finalise funding arrangements between the Australian Government, Queensland Government and the Port of Townsville Limited for the for the Port of Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade project and commence construction works.
- Review land requirements and environmental considerations for work to preserve the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor.
- Continue to implement Townsville City Council’s three-point water security solution.
- Finalise a business case for Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipeline and, subject to its findings, commence preparatory construction work.
Also in 2019, City Deal partners will initiate a formal review of the first three years of implementation as committed under the Townsville City Deal. The review will reconsider priorities and next steps for the City Deal.