By staff writer Matt Owen
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick handed down the Queensland budget with the headline act being a return to surplus, meaning Queensland is the first state back into the black since the COVID outbreak.
Mr Dick was very pleased with himself, renaming the sunshine state as the ‘sunrise state’. Other numbers coming from the Labor Government include expected growth of 3.25% (double the national growth rate) with unemployment levels to reach 5% by 2025, the lowest since 2009.
That is the good news and a positive spin. The total debt of $127bn doesn’t sound so good, but hardly surprising given the total debt pre-COVID.
The big-ticket item for the local community is health. A health sector in crisis that we have featured several times over the last few issues of this publication. A health sector that should never have been in the state it is. This budget provides $15m for the Bribie Island Satellite Hospital, $15m for the Caboolture Satellite Hospital, over $121m for the Caboolture Hospital (current hospital) which includes a 5-storey clinical services building, 130 new beds and a brand new emergency department.
This is in addition to 9475 more frontline staff and 535 paramedics over the next 4 years. This level of investment is significant, and we can only hope that it does address the current health crisis. The State Government is also pressuring the Federal Government in relation to increasing GP numbers and proposed Medicare cuts.
We can only hope with such a significant investment to improve our health system that it is enough. Imagine if it isn’t? That would really show how deep the health crisis is in 2021. One can’t help but feel the State Government is taking all this credit for fixing something that they broke. Maybe the narrative should be, how did the health system get to this point where it needs so much expenditure to get it right?
According to the Opposition, the Treasurer made nearly $6b in announcements that can’t be delivered in this term of parliament. If it’s not in the budget it doesn’t exist is their catchphrase. Only time will tell if it does exist or not.
We can only hope that this State Budget fixes what should never have been broken.
Unfortunately, the Local Member for Pumicestone, Ali King did not respond to our questions in relation to the State Budget and specific questions relating to our electorate.