Hidden cost coming for Queenslanders
QUEENSLAND Treasurer Jackie Trad handed down her first state Budget yesterday, delivering a surprise $1.5 billion surplus and putting an extra $200 million into people's pockets.
Despite the promised $5.6 billion worth of concessions and rebates, including on residents' power bills, Ms Trad admitted she was worried homeowners might get stung by something else.
Speaking to reporters today, Ms Trad revealed homeowners might end up paying the trash tax the government is reintroducing to help pay down the state's ballooning debt.
Councils will be compensated in advance to cover the costs of disposing rubbish and recycling to spare charges being passed on to ratepayers but she admitted there were no safeguards in place to stop councils from double-dipping.
In her Budget speech yesterday, the state's Treasurer and Deputy Premier said the government "has a responsibility to help and we will do just that".
"The Labor Government helps out those doing it tough," Ms Trad said, before announcing Queensland households would be given $5.6 billion in concessions and rebates including on their power bills - a $200 million increase on the 2017-18 budget.
As well as the extra $200 million delivered to Queensland homes this year, the Treasurer said her "responsible" first Budget would be focus on building infrastructure.
The state government is forking out $45 billion over the next four years to build more infrastructure - a move that will increase Queensland's debt but is expected to create close to 40,000 jobs in the process.
Brisbane's $5.4 billion Cross River Rail Project will receive $700 million in funding for the next financial year.
This year's infrastructure program is the largest since 2011, when Queensland was recovering from widespread and major flooding.
The government will also invest $21.7 billion over the next four years into Queensland's Transport and Roads Investment Program and 65 per cent of all of the state's infrastructure funding will be spent outside the greater Brisbane area - a big win for regional areas.
Coming from a small business family herself, Ms Trad said her upbringing played a big part in the government's decision to keep payroll tax rebates at 50 per cent for another year.
The rebates, which will cost taxpayers $26 million, are expected to help more than 26,000 apprentices and trainees.
The Treasurer said the recent Fair Work Commission decision to increase the minimum wage by 3.5 per cent was encouraging but there were still a lot of "hard working Queensland families who battle through each day and are not keeping up".
The state's public health system was given a record $17.3 billion but Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dilip Dhupelia said the mammoth spend was only a Band-Aid solution.
"It seems to be treating symptoms rather than the holistic long-term care of Queenslanders," Dr Dhupelia told AAP yesterday.
"For weeks now the government has been talking about the obesity scourge that we have in Queensland, and the AMA has asked for a whole of government solution to our obesity crisis.
"This was not delivered today."
Commuters also win big in this year's budget.
The state is spending $114 million on 2500 extra car parks around rail and bus stations at Eight Mile Plains, Virginia, Lindum, Lawnton, Geebung, Greenbank, Darra, Salisbury and Springfield Central.
"Residents who have to put up with cars choking up their streets are understandably pretty annoyed," RACQ spokesman Paul Turner said.
"These extra commuter car spaces should relieve some of the worst areas this is happening in."
First home buyers - who've scored a $20,000 kick-starter grant since 2016 - will see that cheque cut to $15,000 if they buy a house from July this year.
Five new taxes will also be introduced in 2018-19, four of which will target the wealthy.
Owners of luxury cars, foreigners who invest in Queensland property, people who use online betting sites and 850 large holding owners that don't have farms on their land will all be hit with new taxes.
If you spent more than $100,000 on your car, you'll be paying 2 per cent more on taxes and you'll pay an extra 15 per cent tax if you're betting online or with a company that isn't from Queensland.
Foreign investors will also fork out 4 per cent more than the 3 per cent they're used to for foreigner acquirer duty.
A $70-a-tonne waste levy is also expected to raise $1.3 billion in revenue over the next for years after the state government announced it would no longer allow other states to dump rubbish in Queensland for cheap.
In her Budget speech, Ms Trad said Queensland's previous lack of a waste levy "encouraged a procession of dump trucks across our border".
Despite the increased levy stopping other states from dumping rubbish into Queensland, there are fears the waste levy could be passed down to local councils and then onto residents.
Ms Trad claims this won't happen as more than 70 per cent of the funds will be used to subsidise local councils for the extra costs.
The government will continue its borrowing to help pay for all of the infrastructure with the state debt levels expected to hit $83 billion by 2022.
The fees and charges collected by the government are also going up by 3.5 per cent - the same as the minimum wage increase - which means getting caught by the cops or paying for your car registration will be 3.5 per cent more expensive.
Speeding drivers are also going to be under stricter surveillance - the government is setting aside more money to combine red light and speed cameras which are commonplace in states like NSW.
- with AAP