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Master planning for priority ports

Overhead image of port

Master planning for priority ports is a port-related action of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050 Plan) and mandated under the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (Ports Act).

Master planning for the priority ports of Gladstone, Townsville, Hay Point/Mackay and Abbot Point, has commenced.

Priority port master planning will support the sustainable development of critical economic infrastructure, the state's priority ports, in a way that will balance growth, job creation, environmental values and community interests.

Following public consultation, the Queensland Government released a guideline* to support master planning for priority ports.


Master planning processes for the priority ports will ensure:

  • the Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is an intrinsic consideration in future port development, management and governance
  • optimisation is pursued for the use of infrastructure at the long-established major ports
  • transparent decision making
  • meaningful engagement with stakeholders.

Historically, planning for Queensland's ports has focussed on land uses within the bounds of Strategic Port Land (SPL).

In an Australian first, priority port master planning will require consideration of issues beyond SPL including supply chain capacity and connectivity, potential impacts on marine and land-based environments and community values within and surrounding the master planned area.

Through mandatory priority port master planning Queensland will:

  • set the standard for port master planning, being the first state to coordinate planning and sustainable port development beyond the port boundary
  • be the first state to require consultation with stakeholders and the community on the future direction of priority ports
  • protect areas that a growing port will require, such as shipping channels, swing basins and berth pockets, as well as land corridors for roads, rail lines, gas and water pipelines and power lines.

Priority port master planning process

The master planning process is illustrated in the diagram below.

Master planning process cycle. Steps: Notice of proposal, Evidence base, Master plan, Port overlay, Review

View the detailed master planning process


The Queensland Government is leading priority port master planning, working closely with port authorities, local governments and other key stakeholders. Transparent public consultation will be conducted as an important part of the priority port master planning process.


Master planning timeframes will depend on the nature of each priority port.

A review of each priority port master plan must be undertaken at a minimum of every 10 years in accordance with the Ports Act.


Master planning for the priority Port of Gladstone is advancing. On Monday 5 November, the master plan and master planned area for the priority Port of Gladstone was released. Gladstone is the first priority port to have a master plan prepared and finalised. 


The priority Port of Townsville draft master plan and supporting documentation was released on Monday 5 November 2018 for public consultation. The public consultation period closed on Monday 17 December.

The Queensland Government will now consider submissions received during the consultation period in preparing the final master plan. It is anticipated the final master plan will be released in 2019.

Hay Point/Mackay and Abbot Point

Master planning for the priority Port of Hay Point/Mackay formally commenced with a notice of proposal issued on 27 October 2017.

Preliminary master planning processes for the priority ports of Abbot Point and Hay Point/Mackay are currently underway.

Further information

*Please note the guideline was prepared when Sustainable Ports Planning was part of the former Department of State Development. The Queensland Government remains committed to implementing the guideline in master planning for priority ports.

Last updated
18 December 2018