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The Queensland Government has delivered its State Budget including Queensland’s Economic Recovery plan, which highlights regional development, water security, and oil and gas as key components.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Steven Miles, said the Budget was a jobs budget.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has put immense pressure on our regional economies,” Mr Miles said.

“This Budget reflects our continuing efforts to support and promote job creation in getting our economy up and running, and to ensure more Queenslanders get back to work.”

Supporting the regions

The State Budget includes $62.4 million to continue the Building our Regions program for 2020-21, as part of the overall $332 million program to deliver infrastructure grants to local councils.

“The Palaszczuk Government is investing $42.5 million to help build the East Bundaberg Flood Levee to protect the people of Bundaberg who have suffered enough through devastating floods in the past,” Mr Miles said.

“Construction of the levee is expected to support 679 jobs over three years of construction.

“The budget includes key components of Queensland’s Economic Recovery Plan.

“Including $200 million over two years ($180 million in 2020-21) for the COVID Works for Queensland Program which provided funding to 77 local governments for 520 projects to build productive infrastructure.

“And, $100 million over four years ($45 million in 2020-21) for the SEQ Community Stimulus Package to fast-track investment in new infrastructure and community assets.

“This is in addition to $34 million in 2020-21 for the government’s signature Works for Queensland program that is delivering infrastructure and creating jobs across regional Queensland.

“These programs are supporting jobs and providing economic stimulus to local economies right across the state.”

Assistant Minister for Local Government, Nikki Boyd, said the government was committed to supporting local councils after a difficult year through COVID-19.

“This budget includes funding to support local governments, deliver key local projects and create jobs,” Ms Boyd said.

“We are delivering on our election commitments including more than $3 million for the Douglas and Mareeba Splash Parks, and $50,000 for one of the Far North’s premier gathering places – the Cairns Showgrounds – to assist its planning efforts.”

Haughton Pipeline powers on

Mr Boyd said improving water supply and security in regional councils was a priority, with the Haughton Pipeline making up an important part of that plan.

“This year we’re investing $7.5 million toward the Haughton Pipeline Stage 2 now being delivered with an overall four-year budget allocation of $195 million,” Mr Boyd said.

“This project will see the existing pipeline extended from the Haughton River to the Burdekin River and will include the construction of a pump station, high voltage power supply infrastructure, and includes proof of performance testing of the combined pipeline stages to create a complete water transfer system.

“The Haughton Pipeline project will improve water security in Townsville and is creating hundreds of local jobs.

“Additional funding of $10 million has been provided to the Burdekin Shire Council to improve Ayr Water Supply by building new infrastructure and more than $4 million for the construction of new drinking water storage reservoirs for Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council.”

Other major capital grant programs with 2020–21 funding include:

  • $26 million in 2020-21 for the Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program
  • $15.5 million in 2020-21 for the Indigenous Councils Critical Infrastructure Program

“As always, these grant programs are much sought-after and we look forward to continuing to work with councils to jointly play our part in keeping the Queensland economy moving, especially in our regions,” Ms Boyd said.

Manufacturing and water security critical 

The Queensland Government outlined a clear vision for the state’s manufacturing sector in its State Budget, including a $40.5 million Making it in Queensland strategy, and strong support for water security and regional development.

Mr Miles, said the Queensland Government was committed to supporting regional Queenslanders to build back stronger in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are with our manufacturers, our farmers, and our regional communities for the long haul, and will continue to nurture and develop strong partnerships,” Mr Miles said.

Mr Miles said continuing to develop a strong local manufacturing sector was more important than ever – particularly to create and support jobs in regional Queensland.

“Queenslanders should be proud of how our state has managed the global COVID-19 pandemic and how at the same time we’ve ramped up our manufacturing capabilities right across the state,” Mr Miles said.

“Through our government’s support, Queensland’s manufacturing industry has remained resilient through this crisis.

“What we’ve outlined in today’s State Budget strengthens our commitment to Queensland manufacturers to help them grow their businesses and employ more locals, with a particular focus on regional Queensland.

“As promised at the election, we will continue to invest in local manufacturers to help them overcome economic challenges, lift productivity and improve international competitiveness.”

These commitments include almost $1 billion of investment to build Queensland trains in Maryborough which will create 690 jobs and generate a ten-year pipeline of work.

The Making it in Queensland strategy includes:

  • $15.5 million – to further boost the hugely effective Made in Queensland grants program with a new focus on bringing critical manufacturing such as medical personal protective equipment back to Queensland
  • $16.5 million – to drive development of advanced manufacturing skills through creation of Manufacturing Skills Queensland, an independent not-for-profit industry body to support workers, employers, apprentices and trainees
  • $8.5 million – to establish new manufacturing hubs in Mackay and on the Gold Coast which will expand on the successful regional hub network already established in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and Gladstone

Mr Miles said the Budget also provided important support for regional water users, through a range of cost reduction measures designed to cut costs for the agricultural sector.

“Water security and the cost of water are high priorities for the Palaszczuk Government,” Mr Miles said.

“That’s why the Budget will invest $81.6 million to slash irrigation water bills across the state over the next three years, which builds on the $1.2 billion we’ve invested in water infrastructure since 2017 that has already supported around 2,300 jobs.

“We’re doing this because we know that reducing irrigation water charges means reduced overall costs, more jobs and higher crop value.

“Again as we promised at the election, our government will deliver a 15 per cent cut in irrigation water charges for the 6,400 farmers who buy water from Queensland’s 35 state-owned irrigation schemes.

“This includes broad-scale crops like sugarcane.

“In addition, we will also reduce water charges by 50 per cent for fruit and vegetable growers, which in turn supports thousands of harvesting and picking jobs.

“The price drops start from 1 July next year and follow on from frozen irrigation water prices in 2020-21 as part of our ongoing COVID relief for business and industry. Government will also continue to absorb the irrigator’s share of dam safety costs.”

Industry pushes for an oil and gas fired recovery

APPEA said the oil and gas industry is committed to working with the Queensland Government to support the state’s economic recovery and ensure the sector continues to support highly skilled jobs and economic growth, including in regional areas.

Congratulating the new Queensland Government for delivering its first Budget, APPEA Queensland Director, Georgy Mayo, said while it has been a challenging year, the sector will be vital in helping the Queensland economy rebound.

“This industry makes a significant contribution to the state – with the Budget papers showing petroleum royalties were $466 million in 2019-20 and are forecast to increase to more than $2 billion over the forward estimates,” Ms Mayo said.

“The sector has also invested more than $70 billion into Queensland’s economy due to the rapid development of the natural gas and LNG industries.

“As a major economic driver for the state, the oil and gas sector is committed to working with the new government on the recovery process as well as on key reforms to help meet the many challenges ahead.”

Ms Mayo said industry also welcomed the Budget measure to integrate the Queensland Productivity Commission into Queensland’s Treasury to establish the Office of Productivity and Red Tape Reduction (OPRTR).

“New measures to reduce regulation and red tape will help to drive continued investment and certainty, which is the key to ensuring long-term growth as well as promoting the development of Queensland’s oil and gas resources,” Ms Mayo said.

“Unlocking new oil and gas resources and acreage for development will help to build wealth, economic resilience and whole-of-economy gains for Queensland and the national economy.

“Responsible development of these resources will also provide lower emissions energy to the local economy and continue to form part of Queensland’s energy mix.

“The industry has effectively supported the Queensland economy during a tough time and it will continue to power the local economy for decades to come by providing energy security into the future.”

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