A first look at Tuesday’s Queensland Budget shows the ruling ALP are gearing up for election mode.
There’s plenty of handouts including a good slice of money for the North West though some of these announcements merely confirm what had previously been announced.
The main focus points for the 2017-18 budget are jobs, supporting the regions, infrastructure and household bills and it also wants to pay down debt and improve business confidence.
Higher coal prices held the government bottom line though the bill for Cyclone Debbie will be high.
However the government is still predicting a surplus despite a commitment to build the Brisbane Cross River Rail which the member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter says shows it is still mainly governing for the those living in the south-east corner.
I personally don’t have a problem with the tunnel as it will be productivity driver for Brisbane, and by definition, the state of Queensland, though I do agree the government needs to do more to alleviate the desperate unemployment statistics that blight the Outback region.
The budget is predicted to generate 40,000 jobs across the state for 2017-18 though the net employment figures may not change due to what Treasurer Curtis Pitt called “federal issues”.
Predictably the state opposition was not impressed.
LNP leader Tim Nicholls called the budget a con.
“It is full of rubbery figures and accounting trickery,” Mr Nicholls said.
“What is more staggering is the fact the state’s debt will crack the $80 billion dollar mark for the first time in history, despite the $10 billion in raids and rip-offs that were the hallmark of Labor’s budget last year.”
This is true but in what is likely to be an election year Labor are gambling on the fact that people want to see action on jobs rather than deficit.
Whether that gamble pays off remains to be seen but Mr Nicholls needs to have other options to counter the impression the LNP is more worried about the state’s bottom line than its citizens.