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Queensland budget 2014: Government begins sales pitch amid budget backlash


Amy Remeikis

Treasurer Tim Nicholls discusses the budget at a function in the Brisbane Town Hall.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls discusses the budget at a function in the Brisbane Town Hall. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Facing widespread backlash and a tough sell of its pre-election plan, the Queensland government has doubled down on its efforts to blame the Commonwealth for concession cuts - but pensioners aren't buying it.

The federal government wound back the funding it provided to the states for certain pensioner and senior card concessions.

And while the state has met, and in some cases exceeded, its contribution, there is still a funding gap of about $50 million for the next financial year.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls at the Brisbane Town Hall where he delivered a post-budget speech.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls at the Brisbane Town Hall where he delivered a post-budget speech. Photo: Glenn Hunt

The state government is still to determine what that will mean for concession card holders, but one option was to reduce the discount by 15 per cent.

The changes will be known by October 1.

Left holding the can and facing the fury of a demographic already feeling threatened by GP co-payments and the upcoming $200 annual rise in residential electricity bills, the state government spent Wednesday distancing itself from the concession issue which has overshadowed both its budget and its asset sales and privatisation pre-election campaign.

While Treasurer Tim Nicholls battled callers on talkback radio, Premier Campbell Newman took to parliament to move a motion calling on the federal government to reverse its funding cut decision - and on Labor to support moves to repeal the carbon tax and renewable energy targets.

"I know that older Australians and Queenslanders are feeling the rising costs of living," he said.

"That is why the state budget didn't increase or introduce any new taxes, in fact state funding of concessions will grow by almost 10 per cent in the coming year.

"The federal government however, has cut more than $50 million per year, representing a 15 per cent cut to concessions that help with electricity, water, gas, local government rates and public transport.

"Make no mistake, our government will be maintaining and increasing its funding support for concessions.  These concessions will be continued to paid but the amount will be up to 15 per cent less due to the federal government's changes.

"I will continue, this team will continue, to stand up for locals, as part of our strong plan for our community, to have the federal government reverse these changes and reinstate funding for these important concessions."

But federal treasurer Joe Hockey showed no signs of backing down.

"Queensland has done substantially better out of this budget over the next four years than they were expecting," he said during a press conference in Canberra.

"For example, just before the election the Labor Party took money out of the budget for Gonski in Queensland and now we've put in over $790 million in additional funding.

"So, you know.  It's easy to blame Canberra when you're a Premier in Queensland".

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, who kicked off the day with a visit to Inala pensioners, accused Mr Newman of "mock outrage".

"Campbell Newman, the premier of this state, and the LNP government, simply doesn't care about the pensioners in this state," she said.

"I was proud to go out to Inala today and meet with the pensioners of Inala....they were there fundraising for cancer...meanwhile the LNP were there holding their big lunch for the big end of town, fundraising for their political coffers."

Mr Nicholls had faced a warmer welcome at the Liberal National Party post-budget lunch, held at City Hall, where he detailed the government's plan to applause.

Party president Bruce McIver told the crowd he "often reflect[ed] where would Queensland if the Campbell Newman team hadn't been elected in 2012".

"Premier, what a privilege to see the results of your government being achieved," Mr McIver said.

"There will be challenges in front of our government, no doubt. But Queenslanders can be confident that our LNP team under Campbell's leadership has the future in safe hands.

"...This budget also is another example of our LNP government team doing the right thing for every Queenslander, you and I included."

Which he followed up with a donation push.

"Do you want to see Campbell Newman government's re-elected?''

"...You can support the re-election of Campbell and his team by buying a ticket or a book in our Art Union.

 "All proceeds from this Art Union will go directly into the re-election account for the Campbell Newman LNP team."

Queensland pensioners have created their own war chest - with retired unionists joining forces with lobby groups to form the 'Fair Go for Pensioners Queensland Coalition'.

They plan on organising a "fight back" forum next month.

14 comments so far

  • The LNP keeps telling us that it "has a plan", albeit untested and untried, and that it wants us to surrender the income we currently receive from our state-owned assets of more than $1 billion annually on the hope of gaining a one-off payment of $33 billion. Even taking account of the annual costs involved with maintaining these assets (which are no where near the income generated), Queensland taxpayers will still be the loser under the LNP's ideologically driven asset sale agenda. There is no sound economic or financial justification to exchange our guaranteed income generating assets for a one-off payment. Tim Nicholls has tried to play down the reliability of revenue generated by these businesses by saying that the revenues are "minimal" and that they are subject to factors such as resources market conditions. Yet he has no problem in using this very same excuse to justify why the State budget will experience a deficit blowout of more than $2.2 billion in the next financial year. The fact is that our state assets are highly valuable which is the very reason why private sector investors are interested in them. This being the case they are worth more to us because of their ability to generate much needed revenues and so should remain in our hands. How will selling them be a good deal for Queensland taxpayers? The LNP's dangerously untested "plan" for asset sales sounds really dodgy.

    LNP budget=No Vision and more failure
    Date and time
    June 05, 2014, 12:59AM
    • If the LNP wants asset sales do it the correct way. Let a private company spend and build the 5 billion tunnels under Brisbane and give the asset back to the state after 30 years. In the long run we the tax payer save 5 billion on a government planed infrastructure asset and in the long term we get an asset. The same could go for the 1.6 billion range crossing and the list goes on.

      Mike D
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 6:46AM
    • Mike D, reinvestment solely in National/Federal road projects at the cost of services to the tax payers and raising the cost of living, isn't a solution its just sticking your head in the sand.
      The BCC is a good example spending on big road projects, going into debt while service quality and quantity drop.
      I'm sick to death of the LNP "small government" tripe, logically if the population grows so should the size of government, but it only seems like the Media Spin grows each year.

      Inner City
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 9:45AM
  • While I'm no fan of the Federal Coalition, I must admit I like to see Campbell and Tim budget-slapped around a bit. But really who are we kidding - 'tis all theatre after all.

    Date and time
    June 05, 2014, 1:34AM
    • Conservative Governments only see poor pensioners as a financial burden on the budget, all they care about is money and do not care about people.
      If your not earning or learning they would rather you did not exist.
      One of the federal MP's said last night on telly that our population was growing at the wrong end, how rude.

      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 5:50AM
      • 'One of the federal MP's said last night on telly that our population was growing at the wrong end...'
        I think he meant the increasing number of politicians!

        Date and time
        June 05, 2014, 7:55AM
      • I think that the LNP should stop being called 'conservative' - they no longer fall under this banner. Instead, they mirror the 'radical' Tea Party policies, which are fiscally unsound and are heavily biased towards increasing inequality between classes. This can be seen by our illustrious PM with his dogged belief in supply-side (or trickle-down) economics, even though statistical analysis shows that it does not help the economy in any way (apart from making the rich richer and the poor poorer).

        Date and time
        June 05, 2014, 9:42AM
    • The simplistic Mouth from the South has 70000 reasons to create the image of a Friary Party Pooper.

      Yippee Yi Yo
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 7:12AM
      • We can significantly reduce the drain on the countries finances by removing at least 50% of ALL politicians. We are seriously overgoverned and we can't afford all the joyrider$ we have to endure in Parliament. And I don't mean generate another cushy [expensive] number for them in administartion somewhere. Not hard to do, just amalgamate some electoral boundaries in time for the next elections.

        Date and time
        June 05, 2014, 7:17AM
        • Agh! No, don't give them ideas! We in Queensland call that "gerrymandering" and if you were around in the days of Joh, you would know that shifting boundaries is the last thing we need.

          Date and time
          June 05, 2014, 8:32AM

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