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.
Annual Progress Report
This is the first Annual Progress Report under the Townsville City Deal, which was signed by the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland Government and Townsville City Council in December 2016.
The City Deal is a 15 year commitment. In its first year of implementation, the City Deal is already delivering for Townsville.
Key achievements since signing of the Townsville City Deal include:
- Commencement of construction on the $250 million North Queensland Stadium.
- Delivery of an interim report on securing Townsville’s water supply providing recommendations and options, some of which are being implemented by Townsville City Council following a $225 million commitment by the Queensland Government.
- Finalisation of the Port Channel Capacity Upgrade project business case and environmental approvals, and commitment of $75 million in funding by the Queensland Government.
- Completion of the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor business case for consideration by the Queensland Government.
Across the board, the City Deal is helping to create more local jobs and attract more investment to Townsville:
- Around 2,000 people will be employed during stadium construction and local firms are already getting trade packages.
- Local renewable energy projects, partly financed by the Commonwealth Government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation, are creating over 200 construction jobs in the region.
- The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia, headquartered at Hermit Park, has started to recruit staff and will support $75 million in Commonwealth-funded research activities across Northern Australia over the next 10 years.
- The Development Corporation for Townsville will encourage local property and infrastructure investment through engagement with the private sector.
- Local industry will have more opportunities to participate in major Defence infrastructure projects as part of a pilot program, which will include the $24 million Townsville Field Training Area Mid-Term Refresh.
Over the next 12 months, the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland Government and Townsville City Council will continue to work collaboratively to deliver the following outcomes under the Townsville City Deal:
Capital of North Queensland
- More work packages for the North Queensland Stadium to be released and awarded to Townsville-based businesses, creating local employment opportunities.
- Preliminary evaluation of the Townsville Entertainment, Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Innovative and Connected City
- Establishment of the Townsville Industrial Development Board.
- Finalise a Smart City Strategy for Townsville.
- Progressing the Port Channel Capacity Upgrade Project.
Industry Powerhouse for the North
- Consideration of the detailed business case for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor.
- Acquisition of land to accelerate the Townsville State Development Area.
- Building the duplicate Haughton to Ross River Dam pipeline, implementing the Community Water Transition Package and preparation of the Townsville Water Security Taskforce Final Report due in September 2018.
- An energy strategy to prioritise short, medium and long term measures including on ground projects and possible financing mechanisms.
Focus on North Queensland Stadium
From the outset, the North Queensland Stadium project has delivered local jobs and development opportunities for local industry. The appointment of the design team in December 2016 included nine specialist consultancies with offices in Townsville, ensuring local employment and placing the region’s know-how at the heart of the design process.
The commitment to provide jobs and support the local skill base was also evident in the announcement on 1 May 2017 of Watpac as the Managing Contractor.
Watpac was appointed on the back of almost 20 years operating in Townsville and a strong local engagement plan that targets 80 percent of the hours spent building the stadium to be done by residents and 80 percent of the project’s value to be spent on local subcontractors and suppliers.
To date, 25 trade packages have been let, with 23 of these packages being awarded to contractors with long established offices in Townsville. The project is already fulfilling its potential as a catalyst for urban regeneration and attracting investment to the region. Townsville City Council has received a number of development proposals for the land adjacent to the stadium site.
The stadium is scheduled to be ready for the start of the 2020 National Rugby League season.
(For more information see North Queensland Stadium commitment on page 12).
Focus on Townsville water security taskforce
Providing Townsville with water security has been one of the top-priority commitments in the City Deal. In March 2017, the Townsville Water Security Taskforce was established to investigate short, medium and long-term solutions for water security.
Including the Taskforce under the City Deal brought together technical and policy expertise from all three levels of government. Following extensive community consultation, technical reviews and Taskforce deliberations, the Chair of the Taskforce delivered his Interim Report on 30 June 2017.
The Interim Report outlined a series of recommendations and options, including the building of a duplicate pipeline from Haughton Pump Station to Ross River Dam to secure long-term water supplies for Townsville, and the inclusion of solar energy panels to reduce water pumping costs.
The Interim Report also recommended a number of short term infrastructure and non-infrastructure measures that will deliver significant water security benefits including leakage detection, bulk water meters, fit-for-purpose water reuse, a water-wise efficiency program, and review of existing water pricing arrangements.
Following this work under the City Deal, the Queensland Government committed $225 million to implement the findings of the Townsville Water Security Taskforce, which includes $215 million to build the duplicate pipeline and $10 million to deliver a Community Water Transition Package. The Transition Package will consist of local water efficiency programs and new devices and technologies that will support Townsville residents and businesses to save water. Townsville City Council is now progressing a number of the recommendations in the Interim Report, including building the Haughton pipeline duplication and delivering the Transition Package.
The Interim Report did not make any longer-term recommendations (out to 50+ years) on regional water security. This is because a number of separate Commonwealth-funded feasibility studies, to identify possible bulk water sources to boost the region’s agricultural productivity, as well as, aiding Townsville’s long-term water security, are due for completion in April 2018. The Taskforce identified that any further infrastructure works and their timing should be subject to future water demand, water savings, population growth and water-using industries coming on line. The Taskforce Final Report is due in September 2018, once the technical studies are complete.
For further information about the Townsville Water Security Taskforce please visit https://www.watersecuritytownsville.org.au/
(For more information see Townsville water security, supply and use strategy commitment)
Economic Indicators for Townsville
The Townsville City Deal aims to stimulate the creation of local jobs, but it’s recognised that some projects and initiatives will take time to mature and have a measurable impact on the economy.
The positive influence of the City Deal is already starting to show, with key projects such as the North Queensland Stadium increasing local employment, despite the region’s economy experiencing significant structural change.
The Townsville City Deal includes seven indicators to track employment, economic activity and amenity.
Some baseline indicator figures have been revised since the City Deal was published in December 2016. The revisions ensure the most up-to-date data, consistent data sets and methodology are being used, to ensure more accurate monitoring of progress across the life of the City Deal. The earlier baseline figures are still available in the Townsville City Deal document available at https://cities.infrastructure.gov.au/townsville-city-deal
Further data available for Townsville and other cities across Australia is also available in the National Cities Performance Framework, on the Commonwealth Government’s Smart Cities website. This includes an online dashboard showing data for a range of indicators which was released in late 2017.
Other Activities in Townsville related to the Townsville City Deal
The City Deal has created and catalysed economic opportunities for Townsville. In the last year, Townsville City Council has been actively pursuing economic development, planning and reform. This work has included aggressively pursuing inbound investment opportunities in Townsville by engagement with the private sector both domestically and internationally.
One of the biggest opportunities Council is pursuing includes a Lithium Ion battery plant which would be a game changer for Townsville. In April 2017, an exclusive Memorandum of Understanding was signed with a consortium led by Boston Energy and Innovation to investigate the financial viability of building a 15GWH battery manufacturing plant in Townsville.
In mid-2017, Townsville City Council commissioned a report as part of its agenda to transform Townsville and reactivate the city. The report, known as the Townsville 2020 Masterplan, reviewed the existing CBD and Priority Development Area with a view to providing an updated Master Plan to reinvigorate the Town Centre. The report recommended a number of projects including a new saltwater lagoon on the Strand, a luxury hotel development near the new North Queensland Stadium, an Indigenous Art and Cultural precinct and new concert hall.
Townsville 2020 re-affirmed projects already being pursued under the City Deal framework including the entertainment and exhibition precinct adjacent to the stadium site, and the centre for excellence and rehabilitation including a new training field for the North Queensland Cowboys Rugby League team.
Since the release of the report, Townsville City Council has been actively engaging with potential private sector partners on a range of the identified projects. For example, in August 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Focus Pacific to exclusively negotiate on its proposal to build a seven storey 4.5 star, 175 bed hotel to be run by a Hilton subsidiary in the Townsville CBD stadium precinct. Townsville City Council will continue to engage with potential private sector partners on the full range of projects, in conjunction with the commitments under the City Deal, to facilitate renewal and growth for Townsville.
Engaging the Local Community
The Local Partnership Forum has been established under the Townsville City Deal to ensure Townsville stakeholders are engaged throughout the implementation process.
This will provide a critical perspective to the Townsville City Deal Executive Board on whether the City Deal is delivering on its vision and outcomes. All three tiers of government are represented on the Executive Board which has responsibility for coordinating the ongoing implementation, reporting and evaluation of the City Deal.
The Forum will:
- Provide local knowledge and insight on issues arising in the Townsville region.
- Act as an active conduit between the community and the Executive Board.
- Champion the City Deal within the wider business community.
- Identify opportunities to harness or attract private sector investment to complement City Deal investments.
- Identify emerging opportunities to improve the impact of investments under the City Deal, in line with its vision.
The Local Partnership Forum will meet biannually in advance of the Executive Board meetings. In addition to the Forum, each commitment under the City Deal is providing opportunities for active engagement and input by all relevant stakeholders. Having both avenues ensures that stakeholders can provide real-time input as individual projects progress, but also provide strategic input on the broader direction of City Deal and how it is tracking.