Regions left to languish as taxes plug Budget blackhole

Jun 22, 2022

Regions left to languish as taxes plug Budget blackhole

Jun 22, 2022

Treasurer Cameron Dick has failed to deliver desperate Queenslanders the hope they need to endure the unprecedented cost of living, energy, health, housing and crime crises engulfing the State, Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter MP has said.

Mr Katter said quality of life across Queensland was imploding, especially in the regions, and it was make or break for the Treasurer this week as he handed down the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s eighth State Budget.

He described yesterday’s Budget as a “true Labor Budget” that was bereft of vision but provided much-needed cash injections to roads, schools and health.

New investment in housing was a noteworthy omission, and 50,000 Queenslanders remain languishing on the social housing register.

“My view is the Treasurer, and the Palaszczuk Labor Government, have shown they are truly running out of steam – they’re on their last legs,” Mr Katter said. 

“We’ve seen the Treasurer break his pre-election promise not to introduce or increase new taxes, with an increased point-of-consumption betting tax, a hike in coal royalties and new business tax to fund the growing demands on the mental health system. 

“Unfortunately it seems these new taxes are to largely be absorbed into the State’s coffers, and will in part be used to fund their massive public service bill which in 2022-23 will surge by 7.7 per cent to reach a massive $30.07 billion as well as to forward plan for the Olympic Games.

“We have seen no investment in radical policy change when it comes to youth crime, nothing to help get regional first home-buyers into the established housing market of which there is a surplus in small towns and nothing to plug the infrastructure deficit North and regional Queensland will face in the lead-up to the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.”

The KAP had called for an innovative approach, and immediate funding, to a variety of state-wide needs including:

INFRASTRUCTURE – Allocation of $6 billion in State funding over the next 10 years to an Olympics Offset Fund for Regional Queensland, to be spent exclusively on major capital projects outside of south-east Queensland that will grow industry and jobs. Funded proposals could include the CopperString 2.0 transmission line, dams and power-generating projects.

CRIME – A $15 million capital commitment to establishing an alternative, remote sentencing facility for recidivist youth offenders that can be based on KAP’s Relocation Sentencing policy proposal.

HEALTH – Create and allocate annual funds up to $10 million per year to a workforce attraction program that recruits and retain doctors, nurses and specialists to remote and rural Queensland communities suffering chronic staff shortages and being denied equitable access to care and services.

HOUSING – Allocation of an additional $75 million per year to the Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant, for exclusive spending on an expanded criteria that provides access to the grant for first home owners in small, regional communities who purchase existing homes.

ENERGY – A $1 billion fund to upgrade or build, over the next five years, publicly-owned base-load power-generating assets including coal-fired power stations to ensure a minimum supply of energy is maintained across Queensland to provide stability during any future energy transition periods. In addition, a commitment that any investment in renewable energy project development across the State includes investment in North and North West Queensland, which boasts Queensland’s best renewable energy resources.

KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto MP said he was underwhelmed by the 2022-23 Budget.

“Despite the Hinchinbrook electorate securing much needed funds for education and various road upgrades, a stronger focus on nation-building infrastructure for North Queensland was needed to supercharge the State’s regional economies,” Mr Dametto said.

“It comes as no surprise that a large bucket of funding has gone towards preparation for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics and our struggling healthcare system.

“It appears we won’t see any significant funding for major infrastructure projects in North Queensland until we have a separate state.

“The KAP believes that a strong North Queensland is underpinned by a network of well-resourced regional towns, and we will continue to be the voice for our regions and fight for their fair share.”

KAP Hill MP Shane Knuth said the Budget was lukewarm and underwhelming for those living in regional Queensland.

“Some important road funding has been delivered, however in regional Queensland we have a deteriorating health and education system and an overwhelming social and rental housing crisis, yet there is little in funding being delivered towards these valuable areas,” he said.