October 22, 2012
Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls says he detects a sense of optimism from the businesspeople in Kingaroy.
This is despite Budget cutbacks and recent job losses from Tarong Power Station and Meandu Mine.
“This community seems to be pretty resilient,” he said.
Mr Nicholls said he had spoken to a motel keeper, whose business was 100 per cent occupied, a B&B owner who was booked out on all weekends, and other business owners.
He dropped into Kingaroy on Friday – on his way to a Country Cabinet meeting in Goondiwindi – to speak to local businesspeople and LNP supporters.
About 90 people attended a dinner in his honour at Kingaroy RSL’s Tobruk Room hosted by Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington.
On Saturday morning, southburnett.com.au had the opportunity of chatting with Mr Nicholls about issues of local concern:
The Treasurer defended his Budget saying that difficult decisions had to be made, however this was one of the reasons he was out talking to people.
“We can’t fix it if a bad decision has been made unless we hear about it,” he said. “This is why it is important to get out and find out about these things.”
Mr Nicholls said he understood cutbacks could have a large affect on rural areas which was why it was important that savings were being made “at head office” rather than out in the regions.
“The majority of the changes have occurred in Brisbane,” he said. “The majority of the staff leaving have occurred in Brisbane.”
He agreed that many of the cutbacks were not easy decisions to make.
“The alternative is more debt, a bigger deficit and more taxes,” he said.
“We are making the hard decisions now so what we can continue to deliver services now and into the future.”
Mr Nicholls reiterated there would be no sale of assets such as Stanwell and Ergon without first taking the proposal to an election.
1. Kunioon mine
There is no aggressive seeking out of land by Stanwell to buy, as opposed to what was happening three years ago when the company was more actively seeking out the resource. However if people wished to sell, Stanwell would consider the purchase along the lines of a normal commercial negotiation.
2. Scrapping of the Farm Financial Support position in Kingaroy
The services provided by this position, which had been based at the former DPI station at Kingaroy, would be more appropriately provided by the private sector. This was originally a federally funded position which had somehow become a State responsibility. “We didn’t see this as core business of the State Government.”
3. Alleged delays in payments to suppliers caused by cutbacks
“I would want to see evidence of that, it shouldn’t be the case.” All transactions are on a normal commercial footing with payment of bills within 30 days. “We’ve said that small business should not be funding government.”
4. Effects of the non-renewal of funding to CTC’s Diversionary Services program and the Alcohol Management Plan (AMP) review for Cherbourg
Decisions about what future support services are necessary will follow the outcome of the AMP review which is under way. However the AMP review will not be completed before December 31 (when the funding for Diversionary Services runs out).
5. 10 per cent cutbacks to many welfare support programs
Often what the State Government has been asked to fund were not grants “but rather subsidies to employ more administrative people”. This could not continue without a massive increase in taxation. “We are asking them to find ways to do these jobs more efficiently. We are conscious of the good work that has been done, we are asking them to do it more efficiently.”
6. Job losses at Stanwell and Ergon
“We have given no directive (to government-owned corporations) in relation to staffing levels and we haven’t changed the policy in relation to dividends. We expect them to run efficiently. “How they keep power prices affordable is entirely up to the Boards and management.”
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Mr Nicholls was encouraged by Mrs Frecklington to visit the South Burnett for his first regional post-Budget speech.
“We were very privileged to have the Treasurer visit Kingaroy over the weekend and it was a great opportunity for people to directly ask questions about local issues,” she said.
“He was guest speaker at the dinner, and focused on the recently announced Budget and key topics that affect us all.
“I also had the chance to take the Treasurer for a tour of the region and we presented him with a gift of local produce.”