‘Sleep­ing gi­ant’ in bud­get

But no men­tion of Bund­aberg’s port in State Gov­ern­ment Bud­get

NewsMail - - FRONT PAGE - CRYS­TAL JONES crys­tal.jones@news-mail.com.au

MEM­BER for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett says there are wins for the re­gion in the State Bud­get, but warns it comes with a “sleep­ing gi­ant”.

Mr Ben­nett said the bud­get, handed down yes­ter­day, was rid­dled with ex­tra taxes, fees and levies and failed to ad­dress debt en­tirely.

“I think the sleep­ing gi­ant for Queens­land is debt,” he said.

“There’s noth­ing in their fore­cast or in the fu­ture to deal with waste­ful gov­ern­ment spend­ing.”

The Bur­nett MP said the bud­get came bun­dled with $2.25 bil­lion in new taxes and fees, in­clud­ing new levies on waste, a bet­ting tax, stamp duty on cars and in­creased fees for vet­eri­nar­i­ans.

Mr Ben­nett said he be­lieved key is­sues of im­por­tance such

as job cre­ation got left out in the cold.

“We are the sec­ond largest per capita de­mo­graphic in Queens­land with the sec­ond low­est spend out­side of out­back Queens­land, per capita,” he said.

“The port isn’t men­tioned – we need to iden­tify our port as a key driver for the economy.”

Mr Ben­nett said he was du­bi­ous about the need for a busi­ness case into a new hospi­tal in place of direct ac­tion and said the re­moval of the $5000 first home own­ers’ grant on newly built homes at the end of the month raised ques­tions.

The state MP said if he held the bud­get against his wish list he’d be bit­terly dis­ap­pointed, but noted there was fund­ing al­lo­cated for some im­por­tant projects.

“I’m al­ways happy to ac­knowl­edge some of the good things in the bud­get,” he said.

Mr Ben­nett said he was es­pe­cially happy to see spend­ing on ed­u­ca­tion.

The state’s spend in­cludes $1.8 mil­lion for a new hall at Kep­nock High out of a to­tal $3.6 mil­lion cost.

Goobur­rum State School – an evac­u­a­tion area in times of flood – was a win­ner with $2.2 mil­lion out of the $2.7 mil­lion cost of ad­di­tional class­rooms handed down.

Branyan Road State School will score new learn­ing ar­eas with the al­lo­ca­tion of $1.8 mil­lion out of a $2.3 mil­lion spend.

Mr Ben­nett said he had been a long-term sup­porter of in­dige­nous ranger pro­grams and was glad to see $638,000 out of a $1.2 mil­lion spend handed down in sup­port.

In health, 2018-19 will see $1.3 mil­lion of a to­tal $4.8 mil­lion for a Step Up Step Down fa­cil­ity to sup­port men­tal health pa­tients, and $1.7 mil­lion to­wards a $3.6 mil­lion Bund­aberg Hospi­tal Pathol­ogy De­part­ment up­grade.

In in­fra­struc­ture, $1.2 mil­lion will be al­lo­cated to re­fur­bish Bund­aberg’s ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, $359,000 to­wards the $3.7 mil­lion cost of re­plac­ing the fire and res­cue sta­tion at Childers and a $7 mil­lion booster for the $22.8 mil­lion Gin Gin sub­sta­tion re­build.

Re­de­vel­op­ment of the El­liott Heads fore­shore will get a $1.1 mil­lion cash in­jec­tion to help fund its $1.6 mil­lion re­vamp.

“We are in­vest­ing record amounts in health, ed­u­ca­tion and trans­port to sup­port our grow­ing pop­u­la­tion,” Deputy Premier and Trea­surer Jackie Trad said.

She noted that 65 per cent of in­vest­ments in the Bud­get were out­side of the Bris­bane re­gion.

“Our num­ber one pri­or­ity is jobs for Queens­lan­ders,” she said.

“That’s why we are also in­vest­ing in jobs gen­er­at­ing vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture that will sup­port a strong economy into the fu­ture.”

Queens­land Trea­surer Jackie Trad with her first bud­get.

Photo: TAHLIA STE­HBENS

GOOD AND BAD: MP Stephen Ben­nett says the re­gion re­ceived a mixed bag in the State Bud­get.

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