Hon Cameron Dick, Treasurer and Minister for Investment handed down his second State Budget this afternoon. Surprisingly, Queensland’s economy is bigger than it was before the pandemic, driven by household spending, strong growth in new housing approvals and investment, and construction projects starting. Queensland has created more jobs since the start of pandemic than anywhere else in Australia.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Cameron Dick made the decision in last year’s budget to borrow big to invest in jobs-creating infrastructure and protect the State’s future resilience from the pandemic. The budget reveals a deficit of $3.485 billion, a dramatic reduction from the forecast deficit of $8.633 billion from the last budget in December 2020. The Treasurer also flagged a return to an operating surplus in 2024-25.
This financial year, Queensland’s economy will grow by 3.25 per cent, more than double the national growth rate. By the end of the forward estimates, unemployment is forecast to be down to 5 per cent.
The Government has described it as a typical Labor budget with significant investment in jobs, health, education, housing, and infrastructure. New to the Treasurer’s speech this time year were commitments to the Arts, Olympics, and funding for a Path to Treaty for First Nations People.
$3.34 billion will be invested in the Queensland Jobs Fund, focused on job-creating industries like renewable energy and resource recovery. The Fund gives industry the support to establish and grow their businesses in Queensland and supports job-creating industries like renewable energy, hydrogen, resource recovery, business, manufacturing and catalytic infrastructure.
The Government has launched a new flagship program, bringing together $1.84 billion in measures designed to turbo-charge job creation in Queensland, the $1.84 billion Fund includes a Hydrogen Industry Development Fund, a new $350 million Industry Partnership Program, Manufacturing Hubs and Resource Recovery Industry Development Fund
The Government will invest $2 billion in the ‘Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund’ to support the development of Queensland’s resources sector while at the same time helping to deliver the 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
COVID-19 level of spending on health has been maintained, which is an operating funding increase of 13 per cent over two years. A $2 billion Hospital Building Fund will address growth pressures across the health system. There is $16.8 billion for education, including:
$1.9 billion over four years has been set aside to increase the supply of social housing. A $1 billion Housing Investment Fund will drive new housing supply to support housing needs across the state.
The Budget included a $14.68 billion capital program for 2021-22, with 61 per cent to be spent outside of Greater Brisbane on projects including $1.51 billion for Cross River Rail and $115 million to be for the $1.53 billion Coomera Connector project in 2021-22.
New Arts announcements included:
$29.3 million was allocated over 2 years for the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport as initial funding for preparations for future Olympic Games, should Queensland win the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
A $300 million Path to Treaty Fund will be created. The Path to Treaty actions will be informed by the Government’s consideration of the report of the Treaty Advancement Committee, which is expected to be received later this year.