In welcome news for the health, tourism, energy and infrastructure sectors and the continuing response to COVID-19, the Queensland Government announced on December 1, 2020 the Queensland Government Budget to underpin the Government’s additional support to reinvigorating the Queensland economy.
The focus: pro growth and pro business. The keys to success: resolving trade tensions with China at a national level and continuing to focus on economic recovery and sustainable fiscal repair.
The announcement from Treasurer Cameron Dick regarding the Palaszczuk Government’s Budget predicted continuing deficits with total debt to hit almost $130 billion by 2023-24, and included the following:
- Infrastructure: a clear determination to increase infrastructure investment with $56 billion earmarked for capital works and infrastructure – a record spend compared to the past decade. In 2020-21, $6.3 billion will be spent on transport infrastructure, including $1.5 billion to continue construction on Brisbane's Cross River Rail and ongoing investments to fund projects such as the Gympie Bypass, Rockhampton Ring Road and upgrades of the M1 and Bruce Highway.
- Renewables: a new $500 million Renewable Energy Fund to support publicly owned energy businesses (Cleanco, Stanwell, CS Energy, Energy Queensland and Powerlink) to continue the transition to renewables and to build, own and operate renewable assets and transmission infrastructure. This is in addition to $10 million to develop the renewable hydrogen industry and the $145 million investment across three renewable energy zones, all with the aim to reach the Government’s 50 per cent renewable target by 2030.
- Tourism operators: will benefit from a $74 million tourism recovery fund to help them bounce back from COVID-19. Separately, the Government plans to spend $40 million to protect the Great Barrier Reef and other natural assets, including upgrades to national parks and ecotourism areas.
- Education: $200 million investment for "skills of the future" including $25 million over two years for pre-apprenticeship support. The Government also plans to invest $1.9 billion on delivering more classrooms, new schools and better facilities.
- Frontline public servants: will be strengthened and 5,800 nurses and midwives, 1,500 doctors, and 475 paramedics will be hired. $21.8 billion in health funding will be made available this financial year, with $360.5 million to assist in the delivery of the Government's COVID-19 response plan and $265 million to commence the delivery of seven satellite hospitals across the south-east.
- Making it in Queensland: new money to support manufacturing, the headline item being the first $600 million of a $1 billion investment to build 20 trains in Maryborough.
- Big Plans for Small Business: an initial $100 million Business Investment Fund, to be managed by QIC, to support SMEs that have growth potential and will create Queensland-based jobs (such as expansion into new markets, including export markets). There will also be $1 billion in interest free/low interest business loans, with an expected 86 per cent going to small business.
We look forward to working with our government and private sector clients in pursuing the road map to COVID-19 recovery and delivering exciting projects and opportunities in Queensland.
The full media statement from Treasurer Cameron Dick is available here.