An analysis of last week’s State Government Budget has revealed that direct capital expenditure of $791 million for Cairns is the highest annual budgeted capital expenditure for the region over a 10-year period.
This equated to a 5.5% increase compared to the prior year and represents $3,089 per person – the fourth highest per capita budgeted capital spend of any region in Queensland, and the first time in 10 years that direct capital expenditure has exceeded $3,000 per capita.
While the report welcomed the funding for a range of projects, it noted that no allowance had been made in the State Budget or across the forward estimates to support Council’s highest priority infrastructure project, the Cairns Water Security – Stage 1 project.
It also noted that an examination of budgeted direct capital expenditure per capita at a regional level over the 10-year period showed Cairns still remained the lowest of any region outside the South East Queensland (SEQ) and Wide Bay regions.
“Had the Cairns region received the same per capita capital budget expenditure allocation as the Central Queensland region over the 10-year period to 2021/22, an additional $3.85 billion in direct State capital expenditure/investment would have been allocated to the Cairns region,” the report stated.
“This shortfall would cover the capital cost of Council’s Cairns Water Security – Stage 1 project 18 times over.”