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. 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.