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State budget focuses on cost of living

It’s hard to keep everyone happy but with a catchcry like “it’s a budget for all Queenslanders”, you would hope there’s a little something in there for everyone in the 2023-24 Queensland budget, which was released on June 13.

Just like the federal budget before it, the cost of living is also at the forefront of our state budget. Young families and seniors have been considered, along with a more promising outcome for those struggling to find affordable housing.

In recognition of the many families struggling with the cost of living, the government is providing a record $8.224 billion in concessions in 2023–24 to Queensland families and businesses, an increase of more than 21% compared to 2022–23.

Here’s a breakdown on just some of the winners and losers of the 2023/24 Queensland budget. Winners

  • The Queensland Budget 2023-24 will invest $16.3 million over the next four years to support Queensland seniors. What will this go towards? This commitment will ensure essential supports for seniors can continue, including seniors social isolation services, prevention of elder abuse and support for carers.

  • Those with young families will receive 15 hours of free kindergarten next year, with an average saving of $4600 for many families, thanks to the $645 million promised over four years. More than 50,000 children will be able to attend kindy for free, up from 14,000 currently.

  • Queensland families with kids aged 0-4 will also be eligible for $150 swimming lesson vouchers in a new SwimStart program aimed at teaching kids how to swim. The $4.8 million going towards the project is to encourage families under cost-of-living pressures not to ditch potentially lifesaving swimming lessons.

  • Over two years, $2.7 million will be spent to expand school breakfast programs in areas experiencing hardship across Queensland.

  • In good news for households, the budget includes a $550 electricity rebate for every household.

  • Those on concession cards will continue to receive an extra $372 concession, as well as an additional $150 cost-of-living payment.

  • In public housing news, an extra $332 million funding will be used for 500 new social homes.

  • The state's health budget in the next financial year will be a record $25.8 billion — a 9.6% increase — which is the largest jump in health spending in Queensland's history.

  • The government's capital program for the next four years is forecast to cost $89 billion. $1.9 billion over four years will be spent on infrastructure for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Queensland has recorded a $12.3 billion budget surplus in the current 2022/23 financial year, which is largely thanks to huge revenues from coal royalties. The high price of coal and oil resulted in a $10.462 billion increase in expected royalty revenue this year, leading to a total General Government Sector revenue of $87.623 billion. However, it won’t last long. In 2023/24, we can expect to face a $2.182 billion deficit, which the treasurer puts down to a big spend on cost-of-living measures, though returns to surplus (on a smaller scale) are projected for 2025/26 and 2026/27. Losers

  • In bad news for taxpayers, Queenslanders will pay $5.6 billion a year in interest payments to service total debt of $147 billion by 2026-27.

  • For households, Queensland will face an inflationary squeeze in fiscal 2023 of 7.25% against wages growth of 3.75%.

  • Renters have pulled the short straw this budget, with no extra measures announced to assist with renting in the cost-of-living crisis outside of social housing.

  • The coal industry will pay $17 billion in royalties over the next four years, courtesy of the new royalty tiers.

  • There’s no stamp duty or land tax relief in sight for property developers.

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