Professor John Rolfe says Rockhampton Regional Council's plan to build a second airport could be 'major advantage' to the region.
Professor John Rolfe says Rockhampton Regional Council's plan to build a second airport could be 'major advantage' to the region.

FIFO hub: Economic expert says plan could be 'major advantage' to CQ

AN ECONOMICS expert has praised Rockhampton Regional Council's bid to build Adani's Galiee Basin airport, saying it would be a "major advantage” to guaranteeing a mining workforce in Central Queensland.

CQUniversity's Professor John Rolfe said while he hadn't seen the plan in-depth, at first glance it looked like a good opportunity to grab a slab of the mining services action.

"It would mean the council is investing in something that delivers economic opportunity,” he said.

"There's no doubt that the fly-in fly-out hubs are going to continue and it's important for regional areas to be able to compete with capital cities.

"It would be a way of growing the airport business.

"It's really investing further or more deeply in an asset they already have.”

But the move to build a second satellite airport for $20 million also comes with some risk.

"Mining of course can go through ups and downs, so there's always the question of what exposure would this give the council if there was a downturn and the airport wasn't needed,” Prof Rolfe said.

"So there's a little bit of a question about whether this is something that can be guaranteed a little bit, perhaps a service agreement with Adani, or something that gives more potential certainty into the longer term around the airport's use.

"I think on the face of it, it's potentially a very good move. It gives the council more opportunity to earn commercial income.

"It would really be a major advantage to making sure the mining workforce was based in Central Queensland.”

While Adani has committed to sourcing its workforce wholly from regional Queensland, Prof Rolfe said if that assurance wasn't there workers could be flying in from capital cities and the money generated from mining going out of the region.

"If a private enterprise had built the airport, there's no guarantee then the linkages would come to Central Queensland,” Prof Rolfe said.

"That's the big reason for council to do this.

"This type of model, where the regional community tries to make sure the benefits come back to that region by providing infrastructure, I think is a very important model.

"And it's not too different in some ways to government providing ports and providing roads and rail to service a region.

"It's just that in this case it's the local government doing it rather than the state government.”

In terms of population growth, Prof Rolfe said an increase from extra jobs would drive the city's rate of growth and increase spending locally.

He said Rockhampton's infrastructure could easily absorb an extra 2000 to 3000 people.



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