A hallmark new policy will see a $100 million Regional Back to Work program, aimed at tackling regional unemployment, which in outback Queensland has hit 33 per cent.
The program rewards regional employers with $10,000 if they hire someone and keep them on for 12 months, bumping to $15,000 if the employee has been long-term unemployed.
Overall, the state’s trend unemployment sits at 6.2 per cent. The government hopes to see that drop below 6 per cent over the forwards.
In other Budget news the Government plans will use billions from public servants’ superannuation, to fund many programs.
The $4 billion repatriation from Queensland’s public servant superannuation scheme will fund infrastructure and pay down growing debt.
“Half of that $4 billion will be used to reduce debt and half will be invested in infrastructure. We are making this decision to create jobs and support the economy and we make no apology for it.” Treasurer Pitt said.
Today’s Budget also shows state’s economic growth fell short last year, bigger than forecast fiscal deficits, and shows a massive increase to spending on public servants.
The State hired 4,103 more public servants than forecast in 2015-16 with the wage bill skyrocketing by 7.3 per cent.
Mr Pitt says the Government had focussed on the restoration of frontline services. He announced a new principle of keeping public sector employee growth in line with population growth.
However, while this Budget forecasts population growth of 1.5 per cent in 2016-17, it also shows public service employee numbers will jump by an additional 5,088 or 2.4 per cent while the wage bill will surpass $20 billion for the first time.
Those figures also include the 4.8 per cent public service pay increase.
Continuing the practice established last year the Budget also sees the government again taking the government-owned corporation cash balances – about $750 million in total – and moving them to state books, lowering the government’s own interest bill.
The money will still be available to the GOCs, when needed.
Overall state debt is still climbing towards $80 billion, with the projected overall debt set to hit $78.89 billion in 2019-20.
“This Budget again shows there is another way. We have proved there are alternatives to slashing jobs and frontline services or massively raising the taxes, fees, and charges paid by Queenslanders as Tim Nicholls did as Treasurer.” Mr Pitt said.