Major cash splash for Qld’s unemployed
The Queensland Government is just a few weeks into its four-year term in power after claiming victory in the state election through a promise to restore the economy.
On Tuesday, it released details of this pledge in the much-anticipated state budget.
Here's what is in it for you.
IF YOU NEED A JOB
Queensland's unemployment rate has consistently been higher than the national average and job creation was the major issue of the October state election.
The jobless rate in the Sunshine State sits at 7.7 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, compared to the national figure of 7 per cent and with only Tasmania worse off at 8.2 per cent.
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the government plans to turn this around through investing in major projects and support schemes to stimulate growth in the private sector.
A record $56 billion will be spent on capital works and infrastructure over the next four years.
"That means building the schools, the hospitals and the bridges, roads and tunnels that our growing state will need in the future," Mr Dick told parliament on Tuesday.
"Treasury modelling assumes it may take as long as four years before the impact of COVID-19 on employment is fully offset.
"Driving employment growth as hard as possible will remain the single most important task of our government during the term of this parliament."
IF YOU NEED SKILLS FOR A JOB
An investment of $1 billion through to 2024 on education will focus on boosting skills to support the infrastructure spend by preparing young Queenslanders to work in various trades.
"And those training opportunities will be tailored to meet the needs and opportunities of regional Queensland," Mr Dick said.
At-school training facilities will provide opportunities for various careers such as welding, aquaculture research, defence manufacturing and hydrogen energy.
The spend will include $200 million on "skills for the future", focusing largely on TAFE and apprenticeships.
"Our program of free TAFE and free apprenticeships for Queenslanders under 21 has been such a success we will extend it to all Queenslanders under 25," the treasurer said.
IF YOU WORK IN HEALTH OR FRONTLINE ROLES
The Palaszczuk Government spruiked its commitment to the health sector during the state election on the back of the department's handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Frontline workers will be boosted by 5800 additional nurses, 1500 doctors and 1700 allied health professionals through to 2024.
In 2020/21, Queensland Ambulance service will invest $55.8 million on infrastructure projects and add another 475 ambos.
"Frontline public servants have distinguished themselves during COVID-19," Mr Dick said.
Investments into other emergency services include more than 2000 additional police personnel through to the next state election in four years, an added 25 police beats, and nearly 360 firefighters.
Nearly 6200 new teachers will be employed over the election cycle as well as nearly 1140 teachers aides.
IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE HEALTH SECTOR
The budget reveals a total health funding of $21.8 billion this financial year, with $1.6 billion of this splashed on infrastructure projects within the sector.
Nearly $980 million will go towards upgrading three sites in the state's South East, increasing bed capacity at the Caboolture Hospital and Logan Hospital by 130 and 206 respectively, while upgrades at the Ipswich Hospital includes a new mental health facility.
More than $45 million has been allocated to recladding the Alexandra Hospital following an investigation it had combustible risks similar to the Grenfell fire tragedy in London.
IF YOU HAVE A SMALL BUSINESS
The Palaszczuk Government rolled out a series of emergency support schemes to support small business when the coronavirus crisis crippled the economy.
"That's why our government backed Queensland small businesses," Mr Dick said in his speech to parliament on Tuesday. "With $1 billion in 12-month interest free loans, with more than $1.3 billion in payroll tax and land tax relief and close to $200 million in grants to nearly 20,000 small Queensland businesses."
The treasurer said this support will continue as businesses continue to struggle amid persisting coronavirus restrictions.
"That is why this budget delivers $140 million for our Big Plans for Small Business Strategy," he said.
"This investment includes $100 million from our $500 million Backing Queensland Business Investment Fund dedicated to investing in small to medium sized businesses that have significant growth potential and will create jobs."
IF YOU RELY ON TOURISM
The tourism industry was disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus crisis given greatly reduced domestic travel and international flights grinding to a standstill.
The state budget has allocated $74 million to focus on the recovery of this crucial sector for the Sunshine State, under the Rebuilding Queensland Tourism initiative.
This will be splashed on a raft of projects including developing new and existing tourism experiences, marketing, and attracting major events to Queensland.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said increased flights should result in a jump in visitors and this summer.
"Our $15 million Aviation Recovery Fund is already supporting 173,181 inbound seats, an estimated $66.1 million in overnight visitor spending and more than 500 jobs," he said.
IF YOU LIVE IN THE REGIONS
A further $200 million will be allocated to the government's Works for Queensland initiative which is aimed at providing money to councils outside of the state's South East to improve the regions.
This takes the total funding for this project to $800 million to support jobs by working maintaining and improving assets owned by local governments.
The weather pattern El Nino is predicted to bring destructive storms and an increased cyclone risk this summer, and the Palaszczuk Government will spend $10.5 million on communities to prepare for natural disasters this financial year.
This is a part of a jointly-funded $65 million over five years, dubbed the Queensland Resilience and Risk Reduction Fund.
In Cairns, $30 million will be spent on the marine precinct to increase its ability to dock larger Australian Defence Force and Border Force vessels.
IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT
Premier Palaszczuk has been vocal in her commitment to support the coal sector in Queensland but the state government has also pledged to fund a number of renewable energy projects.
It will invest $500 million in clean energy projects, Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said.
"Right now, renewables make up approximately 20 per cent of Queensland's energy mix and that figure will more than double over the next decade as we aim for 50 per cent by 2030," he said.
This is still well short of New South Wales and nations such as the United Kingdom and Japan, however, who have all committed to 100 per cent.
The Palaszczuk Government will also focus on boosting its resources industries through a $29 million investment into exploration grants.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart said this will unlock a range of projects, including gas and mineral exploration as well as a new hydrogen deal.
IF YOU'RE WORRIED ABOUT CRIME
The Labor Government's pledge to focus on crime won't be as controversial as the LNP's election promise to introduce a curfew in Northern Queensland but it has invested in boosting law enforcement.
The Palaszczuk Government said its investment in police is the biggest of its kind in three decades.
It has also promised to boost the security and safety of the state's prisons by improving infrastructure and modernising correctional policies.
More than $100 million has been allocated in this year's budget for the completion of the Southern Queensland Correctional Precinct, which will end up costing more than $650 million.
"The state budget will continue to deliver modern, sustainable and evidence-based corrective services to rehabilitate prisoners and offenders and reduce recidivism," Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan said.
IF YOU'RE A COMMUTER
The government's $6.3 billion spend on "transformative transport infrastructure" will ensure the lives of Queensland commuters are made easier.
By 2025, an additional 20 trains (all built in Queensland) will be added to the Queensland Rail network, to coincide with the completion of the Cross River Rail, for which $1.5 billion will be spent this financial year.
When it's completed, the Cross River Rail will service 10.2 kilometres between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills, and include three new train stations on the Gold Coast at Pimpama, Helensvale North and Merimac, and upgrades to eight existing stations (Salisbury, Rocklea, Moorooka, Yeerongpilly, Yeronga, Fairfield, Dutton Park, and Exhibition).
The government also hasn't ruled out adding more trains to the network after 2025, with Mr Dick outlining in the budget the government will consider an option to build a further 45 trains to meet potential future demand.
On the road, hundreds of thousands of daily Logan and Gold Coast commuters will benefit from two major M1 upgrades.
The 150,000 vehicles that drive along the Eight Mile Plains and Daisy Hill stretch will be driving on an eight-lane highway before the end of 2024, while the 85,000 drivers between Varsity Lakes and Tugun will have an easier run by the end of 2023.
Along the Bruce Highway growth corridor, billions of dollars will be spent on upgrading major exits and roads between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, including transforming the highway from four to six lanes between Caboolture-Bribie Island Rd and Steve Irwin Way.
Originally published as Major cash splash for Qld's unemployed