For all build-up and hype about a ‘jobs bonanza’, this week’s state Budget again sold out regional Queensland. You only spin a budget by calling it a ‘jobs bonanza’ when you have a jobs crisis.
The Budget underlines the Palaszczuk Labor government’s failure to understand and deliver what Queenslanders outside the south east really need.
Nowhere is there any genuine relief for spiralling electricity and water charges.
Nowhere is there any relief for the highest vehicle registration charges in the nation and nowhere is there any vision or new initiatives to help sustain and grow our vital agricultural industries.
Western Queensland continues to suffer disastrously high rates of youth unemployment.
With no money in the budget for the LNP’s successful Royalties for the Regions program, the stubbornly high rates of joblessness will continue. Even Labor’s pale imitation of our Royalties for the Regions program has had no further funds allocated.
While the Premier and the Trade Minister like to bask in the success of farm productivity, don’t bother to look for any increased support in the budget. In fact funding for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has been cut from $438.954 million (2016-17) to $424.742m – down $14.212m.
Funding for the department’s agricultural services has been slashed – down 9 per cent from $216.252m (2016-17) to $197.63m. This demonstrates Labor and Minister Bill Byrne are clearly NOT interested in grains, sugar cane, horticulture, beef, dairy, research and development and services.
When you dig further into the Budget, it mentions on-going drought relief, but don’t go looking for any specific line item because it’s not there.
Labor has gone into overdrive with spin – this budget is all about Anastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad keeping their jobs and not about you.
Labor will have you believe that they are spending billions in regional areas next year, but that’s a lie.
The truth is that Labor is pushing ahead with a 10-kilometre train line in central Brisbane which will cost up to $14.5 billion, without releasing the business case, and refusing to tell Queenslanders what new secret taxes will be levied to pay for it.
It’s spin that can’t be believed. Labor has cut infrastructure spending across the regions. Compared with last year:
- Toowoomba will receive $200 million less funding for infrastructure;
- Outback Queensland will receive $164 million less funding for infrastructure;
- Fitzroy will receive $35 million less funding for infrastructure; and
- Darling Downs and Maranoa will receive $76 million less funding for infrastructure.
This means regional Queensland isn’t getting the funding it deserves to build the roads bridges and dams Queensland needs.
The LNP will reinstate a dedicated $500 million Royalties for the Regions Fund, exclusively for regional Queensland.
So where’s the money being spent?
Look no further than the ballooning public service in south east Queensland which is now over 212,000 full-time employees, with another 6000 to be added next financial year. The Auditor-General has warned the government this is unsustainable.
While funding for agriculture and regional infrastructure has been cut, it’s boom time over at the Environment Department with Minister Steven Miles. Funding has soared nearly 40pc in two years, from $207.651m in 2015-16 to $283.039m in 2017-18.
We all agree our environment needs protection. Splurging tens of millions of dollars on programs with no transparency and measureable outcomes has become an art form under Labor.
One can only surmise that Labor is again gearing up to change vegetation management laws and strip farmers, our best environmentalists, of their right to manage their land and earn a living. We have defeated Labor before and we’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with farmers again on this critical issue.
Under Palaszczuk Labor, regional Queensland has been forgotten. Drought is not over and families and communities continue to suffer as highlighted by the unacceptably high jobless rate.
Under Labor, our rural and regional youth have been forgotten.
– Deb Frecklington, deputy Opposition leader, and Dale Last, shadow Agriculture Minister