Council on the Ageing Queensland said the budget took a much broader approach to ageing. (Flickr: Candida.Performa)
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has delivered what the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) spokesman Dan Petrie calls a pragmatic, middle-of-the-road federal budget for business.
Council on the Ageing Queensland spokesman Mark Tucker-Evans said the budget would deliver important services to elderly Queenslanders, although dental health was notably absent from the funding commitments.
The RACQ said there was less money than expected for new roads, while the Australian Conservation Foundation gave the Federal Government a big thumbs down on environmental protection, saying it was doing more to harm the Great Barrier Reef than to save it.
Jackie Trad says Queensland’s share of the budget is “disappointing”. (AAP Image: Glenn Hunt)
Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) spokesman Daniel Gschwind has welcomed the funding for reef protection, which he described as “a right step in the right direction” and $5.2 billion in funding for road and rail projects in Queensland, including for an M1 upgrade and for the Brisbane Metro bus network.
The budget was also dismissed as “unfair” for Queensland by Labor State Treasurer Jackie Trad.
Tax cuts and improvements to aged care are set to benefit a broad range of Queenslanders.
Mr Petrie said tax breaks, instant asset right offs and money for transport infrastructure would help businesses but more should have been done to improve skills and training.
“We’ve got workforces having to adapt to an economy like previous generations have never had to, so by and large [it is] positive but a lot of these measures were released previously,” Mr Petrie said.
Ms Trad said all Queensland wanted was a fair go.
“But unfortunately this budget saw more of the same from Malcolm Turnbull and the LNP, with big promises for New South Wales and Victoria, and Queensland left with the crumbs,” she said.
“While working people got crumbs, big business got an $80 billion handout … that should be going to schools, hospitals and transport in Queensland — not into the pockets of banks and developers.
“There wasn’t a cent for critical programs like the National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing, which will disproportionately impact some of Queensland’s most disadvantaged communities.”
Queensland Council of Social Services chief executive officer Mark Henley said there was little help for low income earners.
“We’re talking about the 40 per cent of income earners who earn $37,000 or less — that they’ll see no benefit or at best a $4 a week increase,” he said.
“We’re going to see the people who are really struggling with the cost of living pressures that there’s not going to be any great benefit to them, unfortunately.
“Even though we’re seeing community organisations, the Business Council of Australia, Deloitte Access Economics calling for an increase in the Newstart allowance, there appears to be no change.”
Here is a breakdown of some key budget elements and their impact on Queensland:
The budget commits $1.6 billion over four years for 14,000 people to stay in their homes rather than nursing homes.
The Federal Government has also promised to spend $83 million to boost mental health services in residential aged care facilities and $20 million for mental health nurses to support older people still living at home who are isolated and at risk.
Mr Tucker-Evans said the spending took a whole-of-life approach to ageing “probably for the first time”.
Choice and control of services is essential for older Queenslanders, Mr Tucker-Evans says. (ABC News: Natasha Johnson)
“The issue, as we know, is we do have a very decentralised state and how do we actually support people to have choice and control of their services that are ideally provided in their home and their community,” he said.
“We will continue to advocate for those services to be funded in Queensland.”
Mr Tucker-Evans also said there were a couple of disappointments.
“Whilst there’s been support for mental health there wasn’t any real support for dental health and that’s a major issue for older people,” he said.
“And our first analysis of the budget doesn’t show that there’s really any new money for housing.
“One of the issues we’re certainly seeing is that if older people don’t own their own homes they’re certainly very vulnerable to homelessness.
“There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of support for people who are in the rental market.”
As expected, there is about $5.2 billion set aside for road and public transport infrastructure projects in Queensland.
The $1 billion promised to add extra lanes to the M1 between Brisbane and the Gold Coast has been included.
Federal funding for M1 upgrades will not be spent until a deal can be reached with the State Government. (ABC Local: Damien Larkins -Image digitally altered)
The Queensland Government was hoping for an 80-20 funding split on the $2 billion M1 upgrade, which involves widening the stretch from Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill to eight lanes, and the stretch from Varsity Lakes to Tugun to six.
Thus far, the Federal Government has only committed to 50 per cent funding, meaning the money will remain unspent until an agreement can be reached.
The Commonwealth has also set aside $3.3 billion for Bruce Highway upgrades, including $800 million for the Cooroy to Curra section and $880 million for Pine Rivers to Caloundra.
There is $170 million in the budget for work on the Cunningham Highway, $390 million to upgrade the Sunshine Coast rail network and $300 million for Brisbane Metro.
But as was highlighted on the weekend, the state’s top pick, Cross River Rail, has missed out — most likely because the State Government had already said it would fully fund the $5.4 billion project.
Mr Petrie said the lack of federal funding for Cross River Rail would disappoint Brisbane businesses.
Ms Trad said money to upgrade the M1 and Bruce Highway would not be realised until 2024.
“There’s a lot of big talk but when you get stuck into the detail it’s actually really disappointing,” she said.
RACQ spokesman Paul Turner said he wanted to see more new money devoted to road upgrades.
“What we’ve seen is some really good announcements over key projects but we’re not actually seeing the big boost in funding we were hoping for,” Mr Turner said.
Mr Turner said the overall amount of roads funding had decreased, but he also stressed that better co-ordination between State and Federal governments was urgently needed.
“We need to get the State and Federal governments in a room and basically lock the doors until they come out and agree to what their prioritisations are working together to get those projects done, these are all vital projects,” he said.
Great Barrier Reef
As announced last month, there is $500 million earmarked to help deal with problems impacting the Barrier Reef.
The funding will go towards improving water quality, tackling crown of thorns starfish, and expanding reef restoration.
The Australian Conservation Foundation says the Federal Government is fuelling reef destruction. (ABC Open: Manuela Keller)
It will also help develop coral that is more resistant to high temperatures and light stress.
But Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive officer Kelly O’Shanassy described the budget as “reckless” towards the reef and the broader environment.
She said between 2013 and 2020, the Coalition was reducing spending on environmental measures by about 40 per cent.
“It actually encourages climate pollution which will make climate change worse and harm the Great Barrier Reef, it invests very little in clean energy, and it actually slashes the amount of money that’s invested in protecting our forests, our rivers and threatened species like the koala and Mary River turtle which is found nowhere else on earth,” she said.
Ms O’Shanassy said the $500 million commitment to improve reef water quality and manage crown of thorns starfish would not offset the harm being done via fossil fuel subsidies.
“People will be quite shocked to know that the amount of money that’s being spent on supporting big coal companies and big oil corporations is nine times more than the entire environment budget,” she said.
“The Government is essentially fuelling and funding the loss of the Great Barrier Reef.”
Rural and regional
The budget earmarks $102 million to strengthen biosecurity measures across Australia.
Queensland Farmers Federation president Stuart Armitage said the state deserved its share of funding.
“It needs to be spent at the coal face. Biosecurity is one of the really big issues for Queensland agriculture in that the fact that a breach, a bad breach of biosecurity, could take any one of the agricultural businesses right out of the picture,” he said.
“It needs to be spent in the area where there’s the stuff being imported — in ports, airports, shipping ports — to reduce the risk of any of these biosecurity outbreaks.”
Queensland’s water infrastructure also gets a boost, with $176 million allocated for building the Rockwood Weir, $11.6 million for the Mareeba Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme and $3 million for Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme.