Launching the Australian-first Strong Choices campaign, Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the unprecedented scale of the State’s debt, which now drains $4 billion in interest repayments every year, demands an unprecedented response if it is to be brought under control.
From noon today, every Queenslander will have the chance to design their own debt reduction strategy and deliver the results to the Queensland Government as part of the Strong Choices discussion.
Mr Nicholls said the launch of an interactive People’s Budget website tool was the next step in continuing the conversation with Queenslanders on the Strong Choices we face to secure our future and pay down the $80 billion in debt accumulated over the last ten years.
“We have called this the Strong Choices campaign because that’s what is now necessary to reduce the $80 billion debt and the $4 billion annual interest burden it places on all Queenslanders,” Mr Nicholls said.
“To pay down debt Queenslanders face three choices – significantly increased taxes, reduced services or the sale or lease of some assets.
“Right now, the $4 billion interest bill is dead money.
“Our Government has big plans to build the social and economic infrastructure necessary for Queensland’s growing population, like roads, hospitals, dams, schools and railway lines.
“But to turn those plans into reality, we first have to deal with a State debt accumulated over the last ten years of mismanagement and waste from the previous Labor Government.
“This unprecedented level of community consultation and communication will enable every Queenslander who wants to take part, to have the opportunity to provide detailed feedback on exactly what their priorities for the State are and to make their own choices as to how they would reduce the State’s debt.”
Mr Nicholls said from noon today until Monday 19 May, advertising throughout the State on television, radio, in print and online, combined with shopping centre information booths would encourage Queenslanders to make a submission to the Queensland Budget through the People’s Budget tool.
“The People’s Budget is an Australian first on this scale which demonstrates that we, as Queenslanders, tackle our challenges together and make strong choices when we need to,” he said.
“Securing Queensland’s future is a serious business, and it can be difficult to comprehend the sheer scale of the budget process, with all that must be taken into account when making economic choices.
“This interactive tool, an Australian-first, makes the Budget accessible and gives people a real understanding of the issues facing our state, highlighting exactly how our current $4 billion a year interest bill could be put to better use.
“The People’s Budget is another way we’re gathering feedback from across the state, along with the community forums, Virtual Town Hall meetings and round tables with community leaders, which I’ll continue to hold in cities and towns around Queensland in coming weeks.
“I know the options we face are challenging and they are not particularly welcome. However, neither is the $80 billion debt accumulated over the last ten years and the Government must act now to secure our economic future.
“Queenslanders will know our considered draft plan of action for paying down debt by June, as part of the State Budget.”
Mr Nicholls said the cost of advertising the Strong Choices campaign was $6 million. This included advertising on television, radio, in print and online.
“This is an important investment in making sure all Queenslanders have an opportunity to have their say,” he said.
“Queenslanders can go online at www.StrongChoices.qld.gov.au or visit a local shopping centre information booth in coming weeks to use the People’s Budget tool and make a submission.
“Additionally, registrations for community and online forums are still open for people who would like to take part. Register at www.treasury.qld.gov.au/communityforums.”