Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment, Curtis Pitt, says the 2017-18 State Budget, the third of the Palaszczuk Government, delivers more Jobs for Queensland.
Mr Pitt said through the government’s infrastructure program and other job creating initiatives, the Budget would support around 40,000 jobs across Queensland in 2017-18.
“Our economic plan has created nearly 60,000 new jobs since the 2015 election and we remain determined to deliver thousands more, particularly in regional Queensland,” he said.
“Queensland is a $300 billion economy which is diverse and resilient and this has shone through this year after Tropical Cyclone Debbie and the related flood events across a number of our regions,” Mr Pitt said.
Strong growth forecast
“Thanks to the overall strength and diversity of the Queensland economy, growth is forecast to strengthen, from the 2.4% recorded in 2015-16 to 2¾% in both 2016-17 and 2017-18, before improving to 3% in 2018‑19.
“The forecasts would have been higher except for the impact of Cyclone Debbie which is expected to result in around $2 billion or ¾ of a percentage point being cut from economic growth across this financial year and the next.
“One of the cornerstones of the Queensland economy, our overseas exports, are expected to grow between 3% and 4% a year over the forecast period.
“In the 12 months to April 2017 our exports were worth $61.1 billion, well over $1 billion a week. It’s an incredible result and, with forecast growth, it’s expected that Queensland businesses will continue to grow, employ more people, and become more profitable.
“Our economic plan will continue to deliver even more jobs for Queensland through our $420 million Advance Queensland initiative to attract new industries and build on our traditional strengths.
“Our $35 million Trade and Investment Strategy will also help businesses export more and expand into international markets, which means more jobs for Queensland.”
Budget again in surplus
Mr Pitt said the Budget also showed Queensland was expected to record a net operating surplus of $2.8 billion for 2016-17.
“This is the biggest surplus in a decade and largely reflects the boost to our revenue from coal royalties that improved the Budget position in 2016-17,” he said.
“The Budget will also remain in surplus for the 2017-18 year, however it’s forecast to be reduced due to $146 million because of the impact of natural disasters.
“The first two Budgets I delivered were in surplus, this Budget is in surplus, and Budgets across the forward estimates are forecast to be in surplus.”
Mr Pitt said the Budget showed General Government debt had been reduced by more than $14 billion, compared to projections by the former LNP government to justify asset sales.
“Instead of selling off our income-generating assets we have kept our government-owned corporations which are performing well for Queensland, returning significant revenue schemes, helping drive down debt and supporting game-changing energy projects,” he said.
Putting the surplus to work
Mr Pitt said the government had acted quickly to use the 2016-17 surplus and allocate it to job generating projects, the further retirement of debt, and initiatives to put downward pressure on power prices for Queensland businesses and households.
“At the heart of this Budget is another massive capital works program — this time $42.75 billion over four years. That’s an increase of over $2 billion from last year’s Budget and a reflection of our commitment to generating jobs for Queensland.”
Cross River Rail
Mr Pitt said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to the state’s priority project, Cross River Rail, and would start funding its delivery.
“The project’s total capital cost is forecast to be $5.409 billion and this Budget commits $1.95 billion over the forward estimates, in addition to the $850 million already funded in previous Budgets,” he said.
“This means that early works can start as soon as the end of this year. We will still welcome a funding commitment by the Turnbull Government, however Queenslanders know – this is unlikely to happen.”
Mr Pitt said $770 million had been made available for the Electricity Affordability Package under the government’s Powering Queensland Plan to ease the pressure of power bills on household budgets.
“The Powering Queensland Plan outlines a range of projects including renewable energy initiatives to secure our state’s energy supply as we transition to a low emissions future,” he said.
Back to Work expands
Mr Pitt said the Budget extended the successful Back to Work program into South East Queensland.
“Back to Work offers incentives to regional employers hiring unemployed jobseekers and young jobseekers,” he said.
“Almost $21 million has been paid through Back to Work so employers can directly employ 4,334 regional jobseekers, including 2,200 young jobseekers employed under the $20,000 Back to Work Youth Boost.
“Back to Work is now a $150 million program for regional Queensland and there is $27.5 million invested to expand it into South East Queensland.”
First Homes Owners’ Grant
Mr Pitt said the Budget also extended the successful Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant that was tackling housing affordability while supporting building sector jobs.
“The Government recognises how difficult it is for first home buyers to get into the housing market, and in last year’s State Budget we increased the First Home Owners’ Grant to $20,000,” he said.
“The grant was boosted form $15,000 and its availability was due to end on June 30, but this Budget contains an extra of $30 million to extend it for a further six months until 31 December this year.
“It is specifically designed for buying or building newly constructed houses or apartments valued at up to $750,000.
“The popularity of the First Home Owners’ Grant is clear with 4,900 application worth $98 million approved so far, with more to be approved as house purchases by applicants proceed,” he said.
Mr Pitt said the initiatives outlined in the State Budget met the Government’s promises to manage the state’s finances and economy in a disciplined and responsible manner through a clear economic plan. They included:
- record health funding of $16.6 billion along with $208 million to upgrade health facilities and supporting infrastructure in rural and regional Queensland and $200 million to enhance hospital capacity and services in South East Queensland
- record funding of $13.7 billion for education and training along with $450 million for new school infrastructure and upgrades
- $500 million over five years under the Building Future Schools Fund initiatives to address enrolment growth pressures in state schools
- a record $1.8 billion for disability services
- $200 million to strengthen child protection services
- $1.8 billion for the Queensland Housing Strategy – to deliver over 5,500 social and affordable homes built over the life of the strategy and create on average 450 jobs per year over ten years
- Works for Queensland boosted by $200 million over two years to support local governments outside SEQ for job creating maintenance and minor infrastructure works
- $5.3 billion in concessions to help Queenslanders’ household budgets
- $1.16 billion for a Powering Queensland Plan to ensure an affordable, secure and sustainable energy supply
- $47 million to construct a counter-terrorism and Community Safety Training Centre at Westgate
- $43.7 million to deliver 30 counter-terrorism officers, 20 Rapid Action and Patrol Group officers and 20 more Police officers for priority areas
- $18 million to tackle the harmful use and effects of the drug ice
- $69.5 million to continue the specialist domestic and family violence court at Southport and to roll out courts in Beenleigh and Townsville, including circuits court to Mount Isa and Palm Island
- $9 million additional funding in response to white spot disease and $30 million for fisheries management reform
- $175 million for the Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Program
- continuation of the $100 million per annum Tourism and Events Queensland funding guarantee.