Ballooning debt and a lack of big investment in industry-building projects at the hands of the Palaszczuk Government has Queensland on a downward spiral, KAP State Leader Robbie Katter has said.
Mr Katter said yesterday’s State Budget had been touted as “regions-friendly”, but it had failed to deliver crucial investment in water infrastructure, industry, agriculture and the resources sector.
He said the government’s $500 million spend on the Mount Isa-Townsville rail and port system had been “cautiously received” by the western resources sector with concerns raised about the long-term efficacy of freight concessions to drive down costs for users.
“There are huge gaps in the way the government has attempted to address the rail line to Mount Isa, and I am reserving my judgement on this until we receive more information as to how it’s all going to play out,” he said.
Mr Katter said the budget highlighted the Labor Government’s preference to buy jobs, as opposed to build them to genuinely progress the economy.
“We acknowledged that there has been some strong spending in education and health and that’s great, but that’s not going to help us address the issue of the debt that is being racked up,” he said.
“Where was the money for the rail line into the Galilee, so that we can then own and profit from it for years to come?” he said.
“If the government is still anti-coal, then where was a funding promise for the CopperString project that will get the North West Minerals Province connected to that National Electricity Market?
“What about some support to get water infrastructure underway like Hell’s Gate Dam or backing the Hughenden Irrigation Project?
“We’re $90 billion in debt and it seems common sense to me that we need to start building some real industry-enabling infrastructure to start paying our bills.
“We need our state-owned assets like water storage, road and rail to stop being treated like cash cows, and more like industry-enablers.
“We haven’t seen that in this Budget and we have a front row seat in the North as to how much this refusal to invest in industry is hurting our economies and communities.”
KAP Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said his electorate had missed out on crucial funding in the 2019-20 State Budget, including towards the North Queensland Bio-Energy Sugar Mill and the dredging of Port Hinchinbrook to boost tourism.
“We are very disappointed there was no recognition of the North Queensland Bio-Energy project in the Budget,” he said.
“This is an industry-enabling and job-creating project that will give local sugar farmers the option of an alternative miller, produce ethanol for fuel and also create cheap, renewable, dispatchable power.”
KAP Hill MP Shane Knuth said the State Government had proven once again it was unwilling to do the hard yards to set-up Queensland’s future.
“The sort of projects we are pushing for are those that will pay for the budgets of the future, such as the rail line into the Galilee and the North Johnson Transfer,” he said.
“It’s been 30 years since we have seen a major infrastructure project in this state, and that was the Burdekin Falls Dam and North Queensland was just buzzing at the time.
“This is the sort of vision we need to see now – if the State Government is unsure and needs pointers on what the regions need, they know where to find us.”