Productivity Commission's proposed changes to zone concessions
Go to any regional or remote town in Queensland and locals will tell you how hard it is to keep kids in town and on the land, let alone attract key workers like police officers, nurses, teachers, doctors and firefighters.
In Australia's most decentralised state, the Palaszczuk Government knows front line service delivery poses a greater challenge than anywhere else in the country.
That's why the Productivity Commission's recommendation to abolish Zone Tax Offsets and tighten Fringe Benefit Tax concessions for employer-provided and employee-sourced housing is simply economic rationalism gone mad.
This week I have written to the Productivity Commission urging that it scrap these ridiculous changes.
In total, the proposed changes would reduce the income of 288,000 Queenslanders by $55 million, or an average of $190 each.
But the biggest impacts would be felt by some of our frontline workers. A Senior Constable in Cooktown would lose about $8300 per year, largely because of FBT changes to employer-provided housing.
A nurse in Mount Isa would lose $7186, a nurse in Cairns would lose $8023 and a nurse in Weipa would lose nearly $15,000.
The proposed changes also affect the regional private sector.
The Productivity Commission argues that if the FBT housing concession were cut, employers 'might' continue to provide housing - Queensland Treasury finds that assumption unlikely, a sentiment shared by the Governments of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
I want to make clear, the Palaszczuk Government will strenuously fight these changes and stand side by side with the men and women who provide world-class front-line services every day to Queenslanders in every far-flung place within our State.
I want to know where Senator Matt Canavan, the former Productivity Commission economist turned self-appointed champion of regional Queensland sits on this issue.
If he really cared, he would come out immediately and rule out these changes that would devastate our regional workers.
An extra ten cents on milk helps our farmers
I'm pleased to have public support from around Australia for our dedicated and struggling dairy farmers.
Many of you would be aware of my success in having a code of conduct fast-tracked for the dairy industry, which, among other things, will help set a minimum farm gate price for milk and therefore help farmers actually make a profit.
I hope that local residents will continue to show support for the industry by backing my proposal to add 10c to the price of each litre of milk, with that money guaranteed to go directly to the farmers.
Australians generally have great respect for our farming families. We know it is a tough job, often very isolating, impacted by many uncertainties, and financially challenging - this lifestyle is all the more difficult when there is a lack of adequate government understanding and support for the industry.
Convincing the Australian Government to introduce the long-awaited code of conduct is a positive step forward. I have also introduced a private senator's bill to set certain safeguards for the industry into law.
But more can be done, starting with all of us doing our bit to support the farmers by buying their produce - specifically, milk.
To put it into context, we seem to be happy paying $2 for a litre of water, and paying even more for fancy products like almond and rice milk and even up to $7 for a two-litre bottle of coconut water.
So, I think paying an extra 10c for a litre of milk is a sensible move that will help our farmers.