June 13, 2018
by Anne Miller
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad delivered her first Budget on Tuesday afternoon, but there’s not many surprises for South Burnett residents.
So what’s in it for us?
Money has been budgeted for new fire stations at Kilkivan, Wooroolin and Yarraman:
Another $20 million has been allocated – as expected – towards the $62 million Kingaroy Hospital redevelopment.
Kingaroy State High School’s performing arts centre / multi-purpose hall – currently under construction – will receive another $264,000 in 2018-19 out of a $3.9 million total spend (the project received $3.6 million in last year’s Budget).
The Graham House Neighbourhood Centre in Murgon (which was allocated $1.4 million last time) has been allotted $2.9 million this time around.
The Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils (WBBROC) – which the South Burnett, Cherbourg and North Burnett councils belong to – will receive $375,000 funding over two years for a pilot project to develop a co-ordinated approach to managing invasive plants and animals.
Linc Energy’s contaminated UCG site at Hopeland, south of Chinchilla, will have $9.6 million of taxpayers’ funds spent on a clean-up in 2018-19 out of a projected $15.3 million total bill by 2021-22.
Another $534.3 million has been allocated to the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.
And the QCWA is probably happy … $500,000 has been allocated to support the association in preserving their heritage halls in rural and regional Queensland.
Treasurer Trad projected a $148 million surplus for 2018-19.
This follows a $1.512 billion surplus in 2017-18, $1.02 billion more than originally projected.
Revenue is expected to drop by $57.7 billion while expenses are expected to rise by $843 million (up 1.5 per cent).
At first glance, rural lobby group AgForce doesn’t seem too unhappy with the results (see below), while the LNP Opposition (also below) is focusing on the projected $83 billion State debt and the introduction of new charges, including the controversial waste levy which will add more than $1 billion to the State’s income stream.
The State Budget includes a record spend on health … $18.3 billion, up $798.7 million on the year before.
In the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service region – which includes all South Burnett public hospitals – the government has budgeted to spend $801.1 million, up almost $40 million on the previous financial year.
This includes the $20 million for Kingaroy Hospital.
Also included are:
Health Minister Steven Miles said a record $800 million would be spent on ambulance services across Queensland, up $80.7 million.
“We’re investing in 85 new and replacement ambulance vehicles,” Mr Miles said.
“(This) is in addition to the 150 vehicles we already delivered last year.”
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said council reform was also a feature of the Budget.
He said $14.1 million had been locked in over four years to establish an independent body to consider councillor complaints and improve governance practices.
“The 2018-19 State Budget confirms a further $200 million, until 2020-21, will go to regional councils for the enormously successful Works for Queensland program which to date has supported more than 10,000 jobs in regional Queensland.”
In early 2017, the South Burnett Regional Council received $4.2 million from the first round of the Works For Queensland program.
It then received $4.385 million from the second round in late 2017, to be spread over two years.
The Budget includes $702 million for the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES).
Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said $82.3 million would be invested into fire and emergency services facilities, vehicles, information and communications systems and equipment across Queensland.
More than $7.6 million has been allocated towards nine new fire stations, including the stations at Kilkivan, Wooroolin and Yarraman.
As well, the Budget includes $171.9 million over four years for 400 extra police officers across Queensland, as well as $55.1 million over four years for 85 counter-terrorism officers.
A total of $40.7 million will be spent over four years for youth justice support measures.
Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said there was increased funding of $55.4 million over four years to support country racing.
“We went to the State Election pledging to boost our support for country racing, and this year’s Budget locks in $55.4 million in new funding,” he said.
“This brings our total investment in Queensland country racing to $70 million over four years.”
Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the Budget would damage Queensland with record debt and hurt households with new taxes.
“Five new taxes, an $83 billion debt bomb and the worst unemployment rate in Australia is Labor’s plan for Queensland,” she said.
“Five new taxes will see $2.2 billion ripped from the pockets of Queenslanders and shoved in the government’s coffers.
“On top of the five new taxes, Queenslanders are about to be slugged with four new fees and charges.
“These new fees and taxes will rip some $2.25 billion out of our economy and hurt businesses and households in every corner of this State.
“Labor took to the election a plan for four new taxes to raise $491 million.
“We now learn it is five taxes and four new fees to raise a whopping $2.25 billion, including a monstrous tax grab of $1.3 billion for their new waste tax.
“It’s not bad luck that has caused $83 billion of debt. It is bad government and Labor only has itself to blame.”
Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander said Queensland’s interest bill was costing the State’s economy $3.7 billion a year.
“There is no quick fix for a debt of this size,” he said.
“Labor’s debt bomb is costing the Queensland economy $10 million a day, $420,000 an hour, and more than $7000 a minute.”
Ms Frecklington said her reply to the Budget on Thursday would outline the LNP’s plan to build a better future for five million Queenslanders.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the State Budget contained no surprises for Queensland farmers, was disappointing in its lack of vision and was unlikely to generate much excitement in rural communities.
“AgForce acknowledges the continuation of existing drought support funding, but would have liked to have seen additional measures to relieve cost pressures on communities and primary producers suffering through their sixth year of drought,” Mr Guerin said.
“The increased funding for the Works for Queensland and Building Our Regions programs will maintain critical infrastructure in regional areas, and the additional $5 million aimed at supporting regional councils to maintain local workforces is a step in the right direction but won’t go far.
“It is disappointing, though, that there appears to be minimal direct new funding for essential freight network projects that would make it safer, easier and cheaper to get farm goods to market.”
Mr Guerin said wild dogs have had a devastating effect on the Queensland sheep industry for decades, but the roll-out of fencing supported by Federal and State Government programs was helping the sector rebuild.
“While the $5 million over two years for wild dog exclusion cluster fencing is welcome and a good start, AgForce believes $5 million a year is needed to meet the strong demand and ensure the job gets done promptly,” he said.
Mr Guerin said the $4 million over two years to establish a scientific program to support an enhanced Statewide Landcover and Trees Study examining regrowth was a long overdue response to AgForce’s calls for the State Government to look at the full picture on vegetation management.
“While there are some good initiatives for agriculture, the positives are overshadowed by the one big negative of the new vegetation management laws that will shut down new agricultural development opportunities and make it harder for farmers to grow food and fibre,” he said.
Other initiatives highlighted by AgForce include:
Mr Guerin said AgForce was disappointed there was no funding for a quad bike safety rebate program for primary producers, no new funding for biosecurity awareness and extension, and no new funding for the School to Industry Partnership Program.
Queensland Senator Matt Canavan has slammed the omission of coal in Tuesday’s Budget speech.
“Coal is a love that dare not speak its name for the Queensland Government,” Senator Canavan said.
“Coal royalties have contributed more than a billion dollars in extra income for the Queensland Government to allow it to fund infrastructure projects.
“Coal has allowed the Queensland Government to employ teachers, nurses and police but it has received no acknowledgement in the Treasurer’s speech.
“Coal royalties have increased by some $1.3 billion since last year’s Budget. Overall, royalties on energy and mineral resources are projected at more than $4.3 billion.
“The words ‘coal’ and ‘mining’ are completely absent from the Treasurer’s speech despite their fundamental importance to the Queensland economy.
“The hardworking Queenslanders employed in the resources industry deserve better.”