Treasurer Cameron Dick has labeled this year’s Queensland budget as “the best yet”, with a heavy focus on health spending.
The government has allocated $23.6 billion to the state health system for 2022-23, an increase of 5.6 percent from the previous year’s health spending.
There is also a longer term plan to expand hospital services.
This includes a commitment to hire 9,475 new primary care hospital staff during the current reign (by October 2024).
These include nurses, doctors and paramedics.
$1.1 billion has been allocated to the Queensland Ambulance Service, 11 percent more than last year’s budget.
Over the next six years, $9.785 billion will be spent creating 2,509 additional beds in expansion programs at new and existing hospitals to address growing demand from the state’s growing population.
Three new hospitals will be built in Coomera, Toowoomba and Bundaberg, as well as a new Queensland Cancer Center in Brisbane.
Here are the extra hospital beds:
- 118 in a new Toowoomba hospital by the end of 2027
- 404 in a new Coomera hospital by the end of 2027
- 121 in a new Bundaberg hospital by the end of 2027
- 204 at Redcliffe Hospital by the end of 2028
- 91 in a new Queensland cancer by early 2028
- 200 at Ipswich Hospital by the end of 2027
- 112 at Logan Hospital by the end of 2026
- 143 at Townsville Hospital by the end of 2026
- 112 at QEII Hospital in Brisbane by the end of 2027
- 249 at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane at the end of 2026
- 93 at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane by the end of 2027
- 96 at Cairns Hospital by early 2026
- 128 at Mackay Hospital by the end of 2026
- 35 at Hervey Bay Hospital by the end of 2024
- 114 in Robina Hospital (on lease) by the end of 2024
An additional 289 previously announced hospital beds will be delivered by the end of 2024 as part of an accelerated infrastructure delivery program.
Winner: Mental Health
In what the treasurer has called the “largest investment in mental health ever,” $1.64 billion will be spent over five years to improve mental health and well-being, and fight drug abuse and suicide.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said this would fund community care and crisis support, and more mental health workers.
“In addition, the Queensland Ambulance Service will order four additional mental health emergency services in the Darling Downs, Mackay, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast areas,” said Ms D’Ath.
Loser: Coal Exporters
With the price of coal soaring over the past 12 months, Treasurer Cameron Dick says it’s fair for the people of Queensland to take a bigger slice of that pie.
Queensland royalties and land rent increased by $5.794 billion in 2021-2022.
The state government is introducing tiered royalty levels from July 1, when a 10-year royalty freeze ends.
This will work the same as the tax system, meaning coal exporters will pay a higher percentage of royalties as prices rise.
“With coal recently trading at over $500 per tonne, our current tariff structure is clearly no longer fit for purpose,” said Mr. Dick.
The current 15 percent royalty rate will increase to:
- 20 percent for prices above $175 per ton
- 30 percent for prices above $225 per ton
- 40 percent for prices above $300 per ton
This will be applied gradually, as will tax, with higher percentages only applying to the portion of the price in each of these tiers.
“For example, if the coal price is $302 per ton, a very high price by usual standards, the 40 percent low will only apply to the $2 portion,” the treasurer said.
Neutral: Cost of Living
Queenslanders will automatically receive a cost of living discount of $175 on their next utility bill.
This will cost $385 million.
But the price of electricity is expected to rise in the medium to long term, meaning subsequent energy bills for many Queensland residents are likely to be higher.
This adds to the pressure on the cost of living as rising inflation drives up the cost of rent, food and gasoline.
This year’s budget has set aside “up to $66.4 million” over four years to support tourism recovery and growth initiatives.
The state government has previously provided more than $1 billion to support tourism and hospitality during the pandemic.
This year’s budget documents cite data from Tourism Research Australia indicating that domestic tourism in Queensland had recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
But the international visitor numbers are far from back to normal.
After years of hits from the COVID-19 pandemic, this spending commitment is far from what many tourism providers had hoped it would be a further helping hand from the government.
Winner: Small Business
More than 12,000 small to medium-sized companies in Queensland with payrolls up to $10.4 million will receive a payroll tax cut.
“This will deliver benefits of up to $26,000 per year for more than 12,000 small and medium-sized businesses,” the treasurer said.
Loser: Big business
Companies with annual payrolls over $10 million pay a 2.5 cents tax for every $10 in taxable wages they pay over $10 million.
Very large companies, with payrolls over $100 million, such as supermarkets, will pay 5 cents for every $10 in taxable wages they pay over $100 million.
The proceeds from this levy will fund what the treasurer calls the state’s “largest ever” investment in mental health (see above).
Treasury estimates this will affect the top 1 percent, or fewer than 6,000 companies in Queensland, including 850 with payrolls over $100 million.
Neutral: Social housing
There is no substantial increase from last year’s budget commitment to deliver 7,400 new social housing units by 2025.
Earlier this month, the Department of Housing confirmed that only 326 new social housing units had been built this fiscal year, a significant slowdown in public housing construction due to ongoing labor and supply shortages in the construction sector.
These problems have no quick fix and will put great pressure on the Queensland Housing and Homelessness Action Plan to be implemented over the next three years.
This budget establishes $200 million to fund the provision of water and sewage infrastructure so that more housing lots can be unlocked.
Winner: Budget bottom line
Last year’s budget forecast a budget deficit for 2021-22.
This has been adjusted to a net surplus of $1.9 billion, thanks in large part to an increase in royalties from coal and oil, as well as an unexpected windfall in transfer fees due to the real estate boom.
Overall, state revenues are up just over $10 billion, or 15.9 percent, from fiscal year 2020-21.
But the good times are not expected to last, with coal prices expected to fall back towards their long-term average and housing activity expected to “normalize”.
Simply put, that means revenue is only expected to grow by 1.6 percent in the next fiscal year and then fall by 3.2 percent in 2023-24.
Royalties and land rent are expected to fall by 14.3 percent in 2022-23. Interestingly, much of the revenue growth is expected to come from an increase in GST revenue driven by national economic growth and Queensland will receive a larger share of the GST pool.
The treasurer says Queensland’s net debt is expected to reach $39.2 billion in 2025-26 – about half the figure estimated two years ago.
He attributes this to the rising wealth of state-owned companies.
The government has committed $19.6 billion to education in fiscal year 2022-2023.
The investment in the Building Future Schools program amounts to $3 billion and includes $390 million to build five new schools:
- Caboolture West
- Caloundra South
- Bahrs Scrub
There is $742 million to expand and upgrade existing school infrastructure and $20 million to upgrade schoolyards and shops.
Loser: Gambling Companies
A 15 percent tax on all bets placed by bettors (introduced in 2018) will be increased by an additional 5 percent Racing Levy.
This is paid for by the gambling companies themselves, not by gamblers.
The Racing Levy is expected to bring in approximately $50 million in annual revenue.
In addition, both taxes will be applied to bonus bets for the first time. This brings Queensland into line with betting tax in all other Australian jurisdictions except Tasmania.
The tax on bonus bets is expected to bring in another $30 million a year.
All of this $80 million in new gambling revenue will be spent on Queensland’s racing industry.