The recent Budget handed down by the Queensland Government highlighted some optimistic forecasts with:
- economic growth of 3.75% in the 2021 calendar year (1.25% stronger than the national GDP forecast by the RBA)
- unemployment to peak at 9% in the December quarter 2020 and improving to 8% by June quarter 2021
While these and other economic indicators continued to improve, the Government noted that the global outlook has weakened further and remains the key risk to Queensland’s economic outlook.
As expected, no new or increased taxes were announced.
The Government’s objectives for the community are built around its Economic Recovery Plan (released earlier this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic) which included initiatives totalling more than $7 billion.
These objectives include:
- Health and frontline services
- Supporting jobs and investing in skills
- Backing small business
- Building and infrastructure
- Growing the regions
- Protecting the environment.
On top of this $7 billion, another $4.3 billion in commitments over the next 4 years were announced.
Spending – key initiatives
- Health – $1.6 billion for infrastructure projects including hospital upgrades and redevelopments.
- Frontline services spending including 6,190 new teachers, 5,800 nurses, 1,500 doctors and 2,025 police.
- Backing small business spending including:
- $1 billion in concessional loans, interest-free for 12 months (to date 6,900 business have drawn down loans);
- State tax relief (see below);
- $196 million in Small Business Adaptation Grants of up to $10,000;
- $100 million in electricity bill relief;
- $500 million for a Backing Queensland Business Investment Fund; and
- $81.6 million over 3 years to reduce irrigation water charges for the agricultural sector.
- Teachers and students funding including $1.7 billion Building Future Schools Fund.
- Building and infrastructure projects including:
- Transformative Transport Infrastructure of $6.3 billion ($1.5 billion for Cross River Rail, $3.4 billion M1 works, $1.5 billion Coomera Connector and $709 million Gold Coast Light Rail);
- Expansion of Southern Queensland Correctional precinct $654 million;
- Stadiums and sport facilities across Queensland;
- Supporting the regions – including funding for Local Councils, film production, natural disaster relief, etc.
- Water supply – $150 million for dam improvement
- Renewable energy funding including:
- CleanCo to build, own and operate a $250 million wind farm in the Darling Downs;
- $500 million extra for Renewable Energy Fund (announced in September 2020); and
- $145 million for establishment of 3 Queensland Renewable Energy Zones.
- Tourism funding including:
- Additional $40 million for the Barrier Reef;
- $5 million in grants for regional tourism operators;
- $25 million in 2020-21 for Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund;
- $15 million for aviation industry support; and
- $20 million (over 4 years) for the Tourism Activation Fund.
Queensland State Taxes
No changes or increases were announced to payroll tax, land tax, or duties. Tax relief measures introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic were highlighted in the Budget Papers and include:
Payroll Tax Relief
- Refunds of 2 months’ liabilities (small and large businesses).
- 3-month payroll tax holiday for small business.
- Deferral of liabilities for the 2020 calendar year.
- Exemption from payroll tax for JobKeeper payments.
- 25% rebate for the 2019-20 land tax liability for eligible property owners affected by Covid-19, including rent relief.
- The 2% land tax surcharge for foreign land waived for 2019-20.
- Gaming machine taxes from March 2020 (due February, April and June 2021) have all been extended to June 2021.
- Lotteries’ taxes from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020deferred until March 2021.
The Budget Papers can be found here https://budget.qld.gov.au/