WHAT'S NEXT?Australia Pacific LNG was one of three plants at Curtis Island to cause huge economic growth for Gladstone in the past five years. (INSET) CQUniversity resource economist professor John Rolfe.
WHAT'S NEXT?Australia Pacific LNG was one of three plants at Curtis Island to cause huge economic growth for Gladstone in the past five years. (INSET) CQUniversity resource economist professor John Rolfe. APLNG

Five-year major project lull sparks calls for change

GLADSTONE'S five-year major project outlook has dropped by 96 per cent compared to the previous five years, according to a new report which has strengthened the need to investigate how to fuel the Port City's future. 

New analysis of projects worth more than $50 million slated for the next five years highlighted Gladstone's need for change, while it continues to adapt to the post-construction boom of the $80 billion Curtis Island LNG plants.

Of the 190 projects featured in the 2018 Queensland Major Projects Pipeline Report, four were Gladstone developments, one of which - the Gladstone to Fitzroy River Pipeline - was classified as "unlikely".

The others included Gladstone Ports Corporation's Clinton vessel intersection and second shipping lane, and Gladstone Area Water Board's Rookwood Weir.

CQUniversity resource economist Professor John Rolfe said the report highlighted the need for the state government to step in to create a 20 or 50 year plan for Gladstone, similar to major cities.

He said to be successful, the planning compact should include electricity price security and other incentives for businesses to look at Gladstone as the state's industry hub.

"The last 10 to 15 years there has been a focus on very large developments, which has been fine because Gladstone has been competitive enough to attract them, but perhaps now is the time to look at those smaller projects, like chemical manufacturing and processing," he said.

"There's no huge growth on the horizon for reasons outside of Gladstone's control.

"This provides the stimulus to think how do we sow the seeds for the next development phase, which might be five or ten years away."

With the LNG projects running under capacity and unfunded coal projects, Prof Rolfe said the region needed to focus on building up other commodities, including agriculture and horticulture.

He said Rookwood Weir would help capitalise the Port of Gladstone's expansion into exporting alternative commodities, including macadamias which are shipped out of Brisbane.

"The real opportunity if Rookwood Weir goes ahead is to grow more horticulture. It would be easier to badge the produce as wholly from Central Queensland, from the production to export," he said.

The BIS-Oxford Economics compiled report, developed for three Queensland industry groups, said the outlook for regional Queensland could improve if the North Australia Infrastructure Facility financed private sector projects.

It said the strengths, weaknesses and threats to the region were shaped by the outlook for LNG and coal development.

Future LNG projects or further stages to the existing plants at Curtis Island were deemed unlikely to go ahead until beyond 2021 - 22.

But it said higher than anticipated coal prices could prompt unfunded coal-related developments to proceed earlier than expected.