Earlier this week, Treasurer Cameron Dick handed down an historic budget designed to drive Queensland’s COVID-19 recovery, and quite simply, to create more jobs for Queenslanders. Let’s take a snapshot of the new Budget and its implications for the Far North and the Douglas Shire.
The Budget delivers on the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s priorities for:
- safeguarding Queenslanders’ health
- supporting jobs
- backing small business
- Making it for Queensland by supporting Queensland manufacturers
- building Queensland’s infrastructure
- growing our regions
- investing in skills
- backing frontline services, and
- protecting our environment
Debt / Expected to increase to $129.72 billion over the next three years. Net debt will peak at $51 billion in 2024 (compared with $104 billion in New South Wales and $155 billon in Victoria).
Deficit / Queensland will not have a budget surplus. A deficit of $8.63 billion is expected for 2020-2021, and expected to drop to $1.29 billion by 2023-24.
Growth / The Queensland economy is expected to grow by 0.25 per cent this financial year.
Unemployment / Queensland’s unemployment rate peaked at 7.7% in September, 2020. It will take until June 2024 to drop to 6.5% and is expected to be higher than both NSW and Victoria.
Taxes / There are no new taxes or tax increases in the budget. Taxation revenue is written down by $4.52 billion (7%) over the next four years. Emergency tax support offered to businesses during the pandemic, including payroll and land tax relief, will close at the end of 2020.
Business and Tourism / A $500 million “Backing Queensland Business Investment Fund” and $47 million allocated towards specific tourism support. $1 billion in concessional jobs support loans to support businesses to keep Queenslanders in work, up to $196 million in Small Business Adaption Grants, $100 million in electricity bill relief for small businesses, $54.5 million to support the transport industry as well as support for Far North Queensland ports and related businesses. $140 million has been allocated to help small businesses to boost their competitiveness and resilience.
Royalties / Revenue from coal and gas is expected to decline by 22% over the next four years.
Health / An additional $360.5 million will go towards helping fight COVID-19, with an extra 2822 frontline health workers expected to be employed by June. $260 million will be used to set up mini hospitals the south-east of the State.
Education / 26 new school halls, 46 classrooms, 172 refurbishment projects are on the drawing board, with $50 million allocated to playground and fencing upgrades. Nine new schools will open by 2023, with 6100 teachers and 1100 aides to join the workforce by 2024.
FOR THE FAR NORTH
Closer to home, the Regional Action Plan for the far north includes spending on:
$1.184B for productivity-enhancing infrastructure and capital works, estimated to support around 4,000 jobs in this region in 2020-21.
$147.7M in 2020-21 to expand and improve social housing, including $9.2 million Works for Tradies Initiative, contributing to Queensland’s economic recovery.
$36.7M total spend to support the delivery of job creating new infrastructure, maintenance or minor works as part of the Queensland Government’s Economic Recovery Plan.
INDIGENOUS LAND AND SEA RANGER PROGRAM
$12.3M to protect environmental and Indigenous cultural heritage values in Queensland, and engage indigenous youth in school and training providing pathways to ranger careers.
$1.3B for Torres and Cape, and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Services.
$82.9M to maintain, improve and upgrade schools in Far North Queensland.
FOR THE DOUGLAS SHIRE
Within the Douglas Shire, $3 million has been allocated in 2020-2021 to deliver new splash parks for the Douglas and Mareeba shires.
Additionally, $9.2 million in 2020-21 out of a $41.4 million total spend has been allocated to Wangetti Trail.