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Australian News Update 11th March 2019

Posted by: Paul Harris
11/03/2019
Industry News

Ground-breaking partnership between Australasian and UK rail industries

The UK Railway Industry Association (RIA) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) will work more closely together to help boost each country’s export potential in rail, having both signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, said, “Australia and the UK have long been partners in many aspects of our economies and our communities. This agreement is yet another partnership which will build upon our strong trade relationship, help encourage even more jobs and opportunities in the rail sector and be mutually beneficial for our economies. I look forward to seeing how our two countries can share expertise, ideas and insights to help grow jobs and opportunities in the rail sector in Australia and the UK.”

Key details include the exchange of research and innovation information; sharing of skill needs, career aspiration, training and attraction; closer working arrangements in trade fairs and rail exhibitions in either Australia, the UK or in third countries; and access to meeting facilities in the offices of ARA or RIA by members of either organisation.

UK Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, Baroness Fairhead, said: “This agreement will further strengthen our trading relationship with Australia so that we can work together more closely on the delivery of ambitious rail infrastructure programs. The UK has a particular focus on developing exciting new technologies. Projects including those such as Crossrail and HS2 mean that the UK is well placed to share insights, expertise and knowledge to help build rail industry capability around the world. We very much look forward to the enhanced cooperation that this new agreement with Australia can bring.”

Navartis are already collaborating internationally between the UK, Australia, Germany and Sweden rail industries, placing senior technical specialists onto key rail projects. We see this strategic partnership as the next big step towards further developments for the rail industry. Full story.

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Government accelerates infrastructure funding

Ahead of the May election, the federal government's $5bn Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility has accelerated its funding of key projects. More than $1.3bn has been spent on 10 projects in North Queensland, the Northern Territory and the northern half of Western Australia, but even more money is expected invested before the end of the financial year.

One such large investment is the NAIF, established in 2015 to boost development in northern Australia, which has seen a $50m expansion of Townsville Airport.

Northern Australia and Resources Minister Matt Canavan commented that the push for investment was a "vote of confidence" from the Morrison government in the North Queensland capital. "Townsville deserves a world-class airport to make an impression on visitors and this investment will help achieve that," he said. “Backing this major project is a vote of confidence from the federal government on Townsville's bright future, despite the tough past month for the town.”

NAIF chief executive Laurie Walker said the projects financed this year would deliver 1,740 jobs during construction and 420 jobs during operations, and deliver economic benefits of more than $1bn. “NAIF continues to work with our northern Australian jurisdictions and proponents to progress projects to signing, financial close and construction,” she said. Full story.

Australia Adding One Mega-Solar Project Per Month

Australia is planning to add one mega-solar project per month, with the current installed base of 10 gigawatts projected to double by the end of 2020.

Australia’s latest mega-solar project is the 333 megawatt Darlington Point Solar Farm in New South Wales and is acting as the inspiration and benchmark for future projects.

Australia’s solar industry saw a huge boost in 2018 when 1.5 gigawatts of solar energy went online, which was nearly 10 times 2017’s figures. SunWize Solar Consultants reports: “You can reasonably expect that 2019 will set another record volume for solar farms commissioned.”

According to Australian PV Institute (APVI), commercial, industrial, and residential installs all contribute to Australia’s solar growth, which looks set to continue at record paces. Australia now has over 10.1 GW of solar installed, capable of delivering 14.6 terawatt-hours of electricity per year and meeting more than 5.5% of Australia’s energy demand. Full story.

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