Queensland budget is full of treats, but is it enough to entice voters?

Queensland budget is full of treats, but is it enough to entice voters?
  • PublishedJune 12, 2024

Cost of living — it’s all anyone is talking about.

So, it’s no surprise Queensland’s Labor government has spent big on providing relief in Treasurer Cameron Dick’s fifth budget.

Billions are being spent on relief measures, including transport, housing and health, in a bid to cope with the sunshine state’s booming population.

Mr Dick said he’s made tough choices, deliberately putting his government’s books into a $2.6 billion deficit next financial year to pay for the measures.

Four months out from a state election, the Queensland government’s budget is full of sweeteners and big on spending. But is it enough to entice voters?

Students feeling the pinch

Jordy Duffey spends up to $140 a week catching the train from the Sunshine Coast to their university in Brisbane.

But with a public transport trial set to cut prices to 50c a trip listed in the Queensland’s 2024/25 budget, their fares will be reduced to $5 a week.

The 27-year-old student said the fare reductions would make a “significant difference”.

Person with long brown hair and glasses staring at camera
Jordy Duffey says the transport measures will save them thousands.(ABC News: Sarah Richards)

“It’ll allow me to have a little bit of extra funding to provide for other bills,” they said.

Jordy Duffey said many university students were experiencing financial stress and food insecurity.

“At the end of the day, the way things are skyrocketing … we do need as much support as possible,” they said.

Public transport is not the only cost-of-living measure introduced — the government has also slashed the cost of car registration for 12 months by 20 per cent.

Person in blue jumper sitting at desk with laptop
Jordy Duffey says the cost of living is impacting students.(ABC News: Sarah Richards)

From July, households will also receive a $1,000 credit on their power bills.

“Unfortunately, the reality is electricity keeps going up,” Jordy Duffey said.

“No matter what the election result will be in the future … I think the main priority should just be addressing cost of living.”

‘You can’t eat electricity’

In Townsville, retired electrician Harry Newitt said he’d recently dipped into his retirement savings to install solar in hopes of reducing his power bills during summer.

“My wife suffers with the heat in summertime, so we run an air conditioner 24/7,” he said.

Mr Newitt welcomed the budget electricity measures, but worries it doesn’t go far enough for older Australians.

Older man in green shirt staring at camera
Harry Newitt says older Australians are struggling.(ABC News: Lily Nothling)

“You can’t eat electricity,” he said.

“It’s going to be a help but I’ve got a friend [with a small car], if the car breaks down it’ll break the bank.

“That’s something you can’t budget for.”

Man in green shirt standing in garden
The Townsville resident says he recently installed solar panels to help reduce electricity costs.(ABC News: Lily Nothling)

For others, like Gold Coast couple Teagan and Matt Jarrett, the concessions are a welcome relief.

“When those bills do come around there’s that reduction, it’s going to be extremely helpful where we can put funds into other things,” Ms Jarrett said.

Man woman and child sitting down smiling at camera
Teagan and Matt Jarrett say the concessions are a welcome relief.(ABC News: Steve Keen)

The couple recently purchased their first family home and said they would have benefited from an increase to the stamp duty threshold for first home buyers, announced this month.

“It’s tight, we’re comfortable but we also watch what we spend … and make sure that we have a safety blanket if we need it,” Mr Jarrett said.

‘Casting beads and trinkets to the wind’

Mr Black said after nearly a decade in government, Queensland’s Labor Party is facing a 10 per cent swing at the October state election — leaving them in a similar position to 2012, when they won just seven seats.

David Crisafulli speaking into microphones outside Ipswich Hospital.
David Crisafulli says the LNP will honour the budget if it wins government.(ABC News: Victoria Pengilley)

Former Labor senator-turned election analyst John Black said the outlook for the party was grim.

“They’re terrified and they’re casting beads and trinkets to the wind trying to pick up voters as best they can,” he said.

In his budget speech, the treasurer said this year’s spending made “clear the values and plans” for the Miles government.

“The election on 26 October is a fight about the future of Queensland, it’s not a referendum on the last nine years,” Mr Dick said.

Shadow Treasurer David Janetzki called the treasurer’s comments “extraordinary”.

“He said this government should not be judged on its past — that tells you everything,” he said.

Mr Black said Labor was unlikely to win the hearts and minds of voters.

“[Voters] regard it as unhealthy if a government has been in too long … you can’t blame them,” he said.

Another key reason these budget incentives could fail to win votes is that the LNP, led by David Crisafulli, has already committed to honouring them.

The extraordinary decision drew the ire of commentators and politicians alike, and saw the party labelled “pathetic”.

“Look it’s quite extraordinary, I’d say an Australian first,” former LNP premier Campbell Newman told 730.

“The taxpayers of Queensland fund the opposition to put up a robust alternative point of view and clearly, at the moment, they’re not doing it.”

Mr Newman, who is now a member of the Libertarian Party, was in charge the last time the Liberal-Nationals lost power.

“Campbell Newman sacked a lot of public servants, it’s as simple as that,” Mr Black said.

“The coalition is still running scared of being too controversial.”

The opposition will deliver its budget reply speech later this week.


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