The 2014-15 State Budget outlines the Queensland Government’s strong plan for a brighter future.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the Government was carefully balancing increases in education, health and community services spending, while not introducing or raising any new taxes or reducing services.
“Strong choices have to be made so that Queensland can have a brighter future,” Mr Nicholls said.
“The budget builds on the careful, considered work we have done over the last two years to rein in expenses and put the state’s finances back on track.”
Premier Campbell Newman said the budget supported the Government’s continued delivery of its election promises.
“We have continued to grow our four pillar economy, revitalise frontline services and fund job creating infrastructure projects,” Mr Newman said.
“The number of category one patients waiting more than 30 days for surgery has been cut by 83 per cent, we’ve cut the long term social housing waiting list by 37 per cent, and the number of long-wait dental patients has been reduced by a massive 98.5 per cent over the last 14 months.”
Mr Nicholls said while significant progress had been made it was now time to make the strongest and smartest choice to securely fund Queensland’s future.
“If we want to invest in the schools, hospitals and vital infrastructure we will need for the future in our growing State, we must address the accumulated $80 billion debt,” he said.
“Today’s budget delivers a plan to pay down some of that debt and fund infrastructure across Queensland.
“The Draft Plan I have released today as part of the budget provides for debt reduction by $25 billion to $55 billion through a series of asset transactions.
“Not everyone will agree with the plan we have outlined but at least Queenslanders will know we have funding certainty into the future so we can invest in what we need for a growing and ageing population.”
Mr Nicholls said today’s budget underlined the Government’s commitment to revitalising the frontline services that Queenslanders expect and deserve.
“Through careful management of our finances we’ve been able to increase funding for Health by more than 6 per cent to $13.6 billion,” he said.
“That includes $224.5 million for the new Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and more than $170 million for the redevelopment of regional hospitals.
“It’s a similar story in Education where we’ve been able to increase funding by 7 per cent to 11.8 billion.
“Significant funds are being directed towards ensuring all our schools are ready for the transition of Year 7 to high school in 2015 and there’s $131 million for our Great Results Guarantee to improve literacy and numeracy.
“We’re also helping Queenslanders on the move, delivering on our election commitment to improve the Bruce Highway with $768 million for highway upgrades.
“It’s extremely pleasing to be able to announce that Expressions of Interest will open tomorrow for the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing project.
“The budget includes $321 million of state funds for the project which is jointly funded with the Commonwealth Government.”
Mr Nicholls said one of the most significant new funding announcements in the budget was the funding to implement the recommendations of the Carmody Inquiry into child protection.
“Because of the strong decisions and disciplined approach we’ve taken over the last two years, we are able to put $406 million over five years towards ensuring that families are supported and the most vulnerable children in our community are protected,” he said.
“We’re also continuing to deliver on our law and order commitment with an extra 267 police officers to be funded this year as part of our promise to fund an extra 1,100 extra police over four years.
“There is also more than $140 million to expand the capacity of correction centres, including the recommissioning of the Borallon Correctional Centre, and undertake security upgrades.”
Mr Nicholls said the budget provided support for agriculture – one of the State’s four economic pillars – which had been doing it tough because of drought in recent times.
“In all the budget allocates more than $60 million for drought assistance, fee and rent relief, and community and mental health support programs,” he said.
“We’re also extending the current transfer duty concession on the gift of farm land from a parent to a child or grandchild to include other family members so that farming families can plan for the future.
“The budget is focused on our frontline services and we know if we want to keep funding these services as our state grows then we will need to take action to reduce our debt.
“We do not intend to leave an ongoing debt legacy for our children and grandchildren to manage.
“Now is the time for decisive action and new investment to build a brighter future for Queensland.”