• Queensland State Budget 2016-17

Handing down his second budget on 14 June 2016, Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt said it was a ‘back to work’ undertaking focus on innovation, investment and infrastructure.

The government’s emphasis on jobs and growth initiatives comes against the looming backdrop of the 2016 Federal Election campaign and the major parties’ mantra of ‘jobs and growth’.

With a raft of funding commitments unveiled a day before the budget, the infrastructure focus will help facilitate growth for mid-size business, provide greater opportunity for innovation and investment, and create more jobs. However, foreign investment in Queensland may be impacted by the three per cent transfer duty surcharge to be levied on foreign buyers of residential property in Queensland (following Victoria’s imposition of the same tax last year), which is expected to raise $15 million in the first year and $25 million thereafter.

Headline budget items include:

  • a net operating surplus of $867 million for 2016-17 (the largest since 2006-07), up from $152 million in 2015-16
  • expected economic growth of 4 per cent for 2016-17, up from 3.5 per cent in 2015-16
  • unemployment forecast to remain steady at 6.25 per cent in 2016-17

Despite a $4.7 billion revenue write-down since last year's budget, Mr Pitt will take $4 billion from the $10 billion public sector Defined Benefit Pension Scheme surplus to fund the infrastructure spend and deliver his promised budget surplus.

Major announcements

Other major announcements covered public transport, regional infrastructure, health and education. In more detail, these are:

Investment of $4.4 billion for transport and roads, which includes:

  • $400 million to construct the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing
  • $300 million for projects like the Ipswich Motorway between Rocklea and Darra and the M1 Gateway merge
  • $250 million on widening Gateway Motorway North between Nudgee and Bracken Ridge to six lanes
  • $96.5 million over five years to upgrade North Queensland roads
  • $50 million for cross-river rail to progress planning and environment approvals

Investment of $2 billion over the forward estimates for the State Infrastructure Fund to build future infrastructure needed to support economic growth and local amenity, including:

  • $300 million towards the Priority Economic Works and Productivity Program
  • $180 million towards the Significant Regional Infrastructure Projects Program

$634 million to roll out the European Train Control System for South East Queensland rail network

A record $15.3 billion health budget (a 4.3 per cent increase), including:

  • a new, $230 million Advancing Queensland’s Health Infrastructure program to redevelop the Atherton and Thursday Island hospitals, repurpose Nambour hospital and develop a new health facility for southern Cairns
  • a further 68 nurse navigators
  • an additional 75 paramedics, as well as 170 new and replacement ambulances

The education budget to receive $12.9 billion, a 5.9 per cent increase

Additional funding of $491.3 million to maintain, expand and build Queensland schools, including:

  • $94.7 million in 2019–20 for the School Asset Maintenance Program
  • $147.3 million over five years to procure three new schools in high growth areas
  • $249.3 million over four years for the State School Base Capital Works Program (plus ongoing funding of $79.1 million per annum), including $60 million for the construction of a new state high school at Calliope

Other major announcements include:

  • Queensland schools to receive $102 million over four years to implement the findings of the Review of School Administrative and Support Staff
  • $72.4 million over four years to develop and implement a new senior assessment and tertiary entrance system
  • An additional $225 million investment in innovation, skills, education and business development to diversify the Queensland economy and deliver jobs growth
  • $140 million for the new Townsville stadium (partly funded by the Commonwealth)
  • The Back to Work Regional Employment Package to receive $100 million over two years to directly fund 8,000 jobs
  • To support rural producers affected by debt and drought, Rural Assistance will receive $77.9 million over five years

Social responsibility

  • New funding of $192.9 million and $5.3 million reprioritised funding to continue implementation of the Government’s response to the Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland report, including $42 million for further specialist Domestic and Family Violence Courts
  • $89 million for wildlife management and environmental protection
  • $22 million for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef

State taxes

  • Introduction of a three per cent transfer duty surcharge for foreign buyers of Queensland residential property, effective from 1 October 2016
  • Introduction of a new family farm transfer duty exemption for intergenerational transfers of farm businesses, effective from 1 July 2016
  • A temporary increase in the Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant from $15,000 to $20,000 for 12 months to assist first home buyers of newly constructed homes  valued at less than $750,000, effective from 1 July 2016
  • Employer support payments of up to $10,000 for new hires employed for  12 months or more in regional Queensland (increasing to $15,000 for hiring the long-term unemployed)