Queenslanders are being asked to join the conversation about Queensland’s choices to reduce the $80 billion debt left by the previous Labor Government, Treasurer Tim Nicholls said today.
“Queensland is a great place to live and work, but the outlook for our strong economic future is being overshadowed by an $80 billion black cloud of debt which must be paid down if we are to realise our potential,” Mr Nicholls said.
“In the coming weeks and months the Queensland Government will be undertaking an unprecedented level of community consultation about the choices we face.
“Queenslanders will be asked to tell us their priorities for reducing the debt and deficits we inherited from the previous Labor Government, together with their priorities for the future.
“Our conversation with Queenslanders will be broad and multi-faceted, encompassing face-to-face meetings, submissions, and an information and consultation campaign, as the Government seeks feedback and goes about framing the next State Budget.”
Mr Nicholls said Queensland could only prosper and be ready and resilient during future economic shocks if the Government acted now to support the state, its people and businesses.
“Our four pillar economy is on the cusp of strong growth, but this will only occur if we continue to take disciplined steps to cut red tape, and invest in our roads and rail as well as hospitals and schools,” he said
“Our $80 billion debt legacy, the State’s mortgage, is the highest in Australia.
“Every year we pay $4 billion in interest alone to banks and overseas interests, and this comes at a real cost for all Queenslanders. That interest could pay for the things we really need like 20 new primary schools, 1000 new hospital-beds or making the Bruce Highway dual carriageway between Brisbane and Rockhampton.”
“Queensland cannot go on like this. We need to reduce our debt and deficit or we won’t be able to invest in essential services and infrastructure for the future.
“The Government has sought the best independent advice from the Commission of Audit, external stakeholders and Treasury economists to inform our conversation with Queenslanders.
“The choices are clear, we can massively increase fees, taxes and charges like car registration or stamp duty on the family home, we can reduce much needed services or we can investigate the lease or sale of some government businesses.
“All of us will need to make the choice about what we ultimately want for Queensland and what the priorities for investing in our future should be, as we address Labor’s debt and deficit legacy in a disciplined and methodical way.”
Mr Nicholls said from next week he would be travelling to talk to Queenslanders across the state beginning in Cairns and encompassing Townsville, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Emerald, Longreach, Toowoomba, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and Brisbane, before continuing to as many other communities as possible.
“We will be engaging Queenslanders from all cities and regions, discussing and listening to what they have to say and I invite everyone to make sure they form part of the conversation.”