Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich said that while the boost in infrastructure funding in today’s Queensland state budget was good for jobs, the increase in borrowings was concerning — especially given the annual surplus was set to triple to $1.51 billion thanks to a strong injection of mining royalties.
“The stronger economy in terms of projected economic growth up 0.5% to 3% and focus on infrastructure is good news for Queenslanders, particularly for those in regional areas given more than half of the $11.6 billion to be spent on major projects this year has been committed to regions outside the south-east corner,” Ms Zubrinich said.
“The introduction of the new $40 million Growth Area and Regional Infrastructure Investment Fund and the $70 million increase over the next three years through the government’s Building our Regions fund are good news and we hope to see some of this funding filter through to the Sunshine Coast.”
“We do note however, that much of the infrastructure spend that was announced today will fund commitments that have already been made by the state government. There really were no surprises in this budget except perhaps the increase in many government fees which will be an additional brake on already slowing household spending and savings.”
“We understand the pressure to take on additional debt to fund such a significant infrastructure program given that unemployment continues to rise, despite a stronger economy. Queensland’s high population growth — largely due to the migration of interstate workers — makes it prudent for funds to be invested into projects that can support job seekers in our economy.”
“On this basis we are also encouraged to see that the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program was allocated an additional $180 million over three years to boost the number of apprenticeships and increase workforce participation.
“As per the past few budgets, the big disappointment continues to be the lack of progress in reducing debt — it doesn’t appear to be a priority for this government. Surely it is time to find other ways to fund infrastructure other than increasing government debt.”