Eight thousand engineering construction jobs will go in Queensland by 2015/16, a new report shows.

An unprecedented expansion in the liquefied natural gas industry pushed work to an unnatural high, and the state is in for an unfortunate correction.

Major work done, for projects over $100 million, is forecast to contract nearly 50 per cent over three years to 2015/16, to a trough of $9.5 billion.

Queensland Major Contractors Association and Construction Skills Queensland released on Thursday their sixth report at a breakfast of industry heavyweights in Brisbane.

An upswing is forecast for 2016/17, rising further in 2017/18, but there is significant risk attached with a large portion of work unfunded, included Galilee basin mining project.

The association’s president Tony Hackett called for the state and federal government to smooth the peaks and troughs, by trickling projects onto the market when private sector investment is low rather than in boom time.

“We’re not trying to paint doom and gloom. The overarching picture is that we were at an historic peak and it is starting to return to 2009 levels,” he said.

“It is starting to look like a new normal.

“So what you’re seeing is those jobs disappearing and that has a profound effect on the Queensland economy and unemployment.”

Mr Hackett took a jab at treasurer Tim Nicholls who was painting an “extremely rosy picture” of economic growth and the state’s finances on radio Thursday, at a time when the construction industry is hemorrhaging.

Deputy Premier and state development minister Jeff Seeney was forced to defend the government’s track record to the 300-plus crowd.

After all, the government had promised construction was going to be one of the four pillars of the state’s economy.

“The construction industry is coming off a once in a generation boom,” Mr Seeney said.

“It is, as you say, patchy.

“All the government can do is that we provide opportunities for the construction industry.

“I’m confident that in the two years we’ve made strong inroads in reducing the plethora of legislative restraints that applied to your business under the former Labor government.”

By Kym Agius
  • The Queensland economy has been hammered by first a flood, then cyclone and drought. To survive the tempest, Queensland needs to embark on an ambitious infrastructure program. The current level of activity would not support an additional 8000 workers home to roost after the mining and Gas infrastructure expansion. I would be pleased to see a number of projects fast tracked to improve confidence and to ensure that a deep recession does not set in. Austerity has its place and now that we have a mean and lean government in Queensland we should borrow big to build the next generation of infrastructure. Perhaps planning a series of reservoirs and pumping water back into the Murray system. The roads from Mackay, Gladstone to Emerald should be 4 lane freeway to cater for future growth. Increase the capacity of dams in S.E. Queensland and build and replace a double line rail link from Brisbane to Cairns. The Bruce highway should be upgraded to four lanes. Light rail projects in Brisbane, Townsville Ipswich and Toowoomba. Queensland needs to get cracking if we are to reach our potential as the most prosperous state in Australia, with low unemployment levels.

  • We are fast approaching the one million unemployed level.

  • The problem is even bigger when you consider the number of Australians who are not classed as unemployed but only work 'minimal' hours.

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