War on Economy

WAR ON ECONOMY

June 7, 2019

Scott Morrison’s Queensland election “miracle” seems to have left many southerners scratching their heads, but after living under a Green Labor government for the past five years, Queenslanders knew what a Green Labor federal government would bring.

The Palaszczuk Government has been busily passing legislation to secure Green preferences in the next election. The result is like a declaration of war on key pillars of the Queensland economy.

Queensland Budget Week

On Monday I head back to Parliament for Budget week. It won’t be good and I wonder how many tricks Jackie Trad has left in the bag to disguise the true state of affairs.

She could sell the Port of Brisbane, Queensland Motorways and Queensland Rail National without taking it to an election.

Whoops! Been There – Done That!

She could take billions from the public service superannuation fund, without wondering how future governments will meet this obligation.

Done That Too!

She could shift debt off the government’s books by moving it over to government-owned corporations like SunWater, Ergon and Energex.

… That Too!

She could instruct the same government-owned corporations to pay the Government 100 percent of their profits, leaving nothing to re-invest in maintaining their business infrastructure.

Already Doing That –

What about raising taxes, duties and charges? Done that everywhere from fines to vehicle registration to foreign property buyers. And we also have five new taxes and counting.

The Al Capone Model of Taxation

So with more front than Myers, Treasurer Trad demands a “voluntary donation” of $70 million from the State’s miners. This is the same pillar of the economy that has been paying record royalties. It is tipped to be $4.2 Billion this year. No other Queensland Government has received royalties on this scale. In addition, they also pay payroll tax and their employees all contribute to GST.

But there is little recognition and no gratitude. Just a demand for a “voluntary” donation.

Your Money – and your Life!

While demanding more money from miners, Jackie Trad tells her Green mates that she is closing down coal mining in Queensland. She even has an advisory panel called the Just Transition Group to plan the when and how.

Toppling the Pillars

The previous LNP government saw the Queensland economy as having four key pillars: mining, agriculture, tourism and construction. The aim was to boost the investment in each sector to grow the productivity of each. Jobs and prosperity would be the result.

But Labor seems to be ideologically against three of those sectors. It publicly says it wants to close down coal mining. It has gone to war with agriculture and construction is at a standstill, both in the public sector and in the private sector.

The number of housing approvals has fallen every month for 15 consecutive months, since January 2018. In March 2019, housing approvals in regional Queensland made up just 15 per cent of all approvals. In the March quarter of 2019, the value of construction work done in Queensland was the lowest since 2006.

Attacking the Tradies

Meanwhile the Industrial Relations Minister has brought in heavy fines for builders breaching her new regulations on cement dust, even though the builders can’t purchase the safety equipment needed until it is imported from overseas. I know of one regional builder who closed two work sites rather than cop the $3,600 fine.

The same minister is going to charge builders hundreds of millions of dollars by raising two levies – one propping up builders’ long service leave and the other to fund suicide prevention.

What about Public Infrastructure?

Normally, a government could help by funding public infrastructure construction. But as the Courier Mail has reported, Queensland in the 2018-19 year spent only 1.75 per cent of its gross state product on infrastructure.

Dead to Last

This was the second-lowest in Australia after the ACT. Looked at as a percentage of state revenue, Queensland is dead last on 10.27 per cent. The Courier Mail makes the comparison with Victoria on 19.78 per cent and NSW at a lavish 30.18 per cent.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Annastacia Palaszczuk went to the last election promising jobs, jobs, jobs. Since then Townsville’s unemployment rate is nearly nine per cent and youth unemployment in Outback Queensland is a permanent crisis at over 25 per cent.

So Where Are they Spending the Money?

The annual public service wages bill is now $7 billion higher than it was under the LNP government. Public service employee costs now account for nearly half of Queensland’s revenue. If this is to be seen as a wise investment in front-line service that should be reflected in the fruits and figures.

Folly or a Spree?

Strangely, juvenile justice is in crisis, our adult jails are overflowing and prison guards are striking. Our children’s school results slip down the achievement ranks for literacy and numeracy, outlaw motorcycle gangs are back and even in leafy, suburban Brisbane the people of MacGregor held a march demanding more police after an apparently random shooting.

And then there is Queensland Health. When Lawrence Springborg left the office of Health Minister, he left an elective surgery waiting time of 27 days. Last financial year the median wait time for elective surgery in the central west region was 259 days.

Rural Maternity services are lacking, large numbers of regional and rural patients have inadequate access to life sustaining treatments, from renal dialysis to cancer treatments. Ambulance ramping is back big time and our major hospitals are struggling from Code Yellow to Code Yellow.

But as I write, the Government is paying the American billionaire, Al Gore $320,000 to speak at Queensland’s first climate change week. I am saying “week”, although “festival” would be more apt. After the fine dining, selfies and back pats, it will be budget week.

So Back to the Budget?

This will be the fifth budget from the Palaszczuk Government. We all better hope for the best but prepare for the worst. On top of this disastrous social and economic track record, Queensland is wallowing in over $83 Billion of debt.

Queensland lost its AAA credit rating under Labor so Queenslanders are being billed for $3.7 Billion in interest – that’s right, interest – every year. That’s about 5 per cent of State revenue, excluding money from the federal government.

There doesn’t seem to be any plan to actually pay down some of the debt.

Thank You

As always, thank you for reading my newsletter about Parliament and Gregory. It is an honour to represent you.

If you are new to the newsletter and want to subscribe, email me at gregory@parliament.qld.gov.au or visit lachlanmillarmp.com.

Lachlan Millar MP
Member for Gregory and
Shadow Minister for Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers.