15 Jun KAP PLEADS FOR VISION AS TREASURER PREPARES QLD BUDGET
An Olympics infrastructure offset fund, outback youth offender sentencing facility and a rural health workforce attraction program are among the Katter’s Australian Party’s (KAP) priorities for the 2022-23 Queensland Budget, due to be handed down on June 21.
KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said he expected the State’s coffers, which in 2021-22 were defined by an operating deficit and a forecast $126.68 billion in total net debt by 2024-25, to be in bad shape.
“For far too long we have seen a focus from the State Government on maintaining the status quo whilst expanding social spending, growing the public service, and plugging infrastructure needs with the bare minimum – there has been no real vision in Queensland for a very long time and it is truly starting to show,” he said.
“Mindlessly raising royalties and taxes whilst refusing to deliver hope to Queenslanders, and particularly those in the forgotten regions, is a recipe for disaster in the long-term.
“The KAP have put forward projects to the Treasurer that not only address long-running infrastructure shortfalls, particularly in the regions, but also directs capital investment towards the most acute problems being faced by every day Queenslanders including health, crime and energy costs.
“We hope some desperately-need vision is delivered next week.”
- INFRASTRUCTURE – Allocation of $6 billion in State funding over the next 10 years to an Olympics Offset Fund for Regional Queensland, to be spent exclusively on major capital projects outside of south-east Queensland that will grow industry and jobs. Funded proposals could include the CopperString 2.0 transmission line, dams and power-generating projects.
- CRIME – A $15 million capital commitment to establishing an alternative, remote sentencing facility for recidivist youth offenders that can be based on KAP’s Relocation Sentencing policy proposal.
- HEALTH – Create and allocate annual funds up to $10 million per year to a workforce attraction program that recruits and retain doctors, nurses and specialists to remote and rural Queensland communities suffering chronic staff shortages and being denied equitable access to care and services.
- HOUSING – Allocation of an additional $75 million per year to the Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant, for exclusive spending on an expanded criteria that provides access to the grant for first home owners in small, regional communities who purchase existing homes.
- ENERGY – A $1 billion fund to upgrade or build, over the next five years, publicly-owned base-load power-generating assets including coal-fired power stations to ensure a minimum supply of energy is maintained across Queensland to provide stability during any future energy transition periods. In addition, a commitment that any investment in renewable energy project development across the State includes investment in North and North West Queensland, which boasts Queensland’s best renewable energy resources.
KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said he was extremely disappointed with last year’s lacklustre State Budget, saying it lacked vision for his Hinchinbrook electorate’s small businesses, tourism industries, agriculture and health sectors.
“All tidal access at Dungeness and Forrest Beach, Cardwell Mountain Bike Trails, Stone River Weirs, a CT scanner for Ingham Hospital, improved access to the northern suburbs of Townsville including North Shore and Shaw’s Road intersections and raising the Bohle River Bridge are just a few key priority projects I have been advocating for and pushing for funding this financial year,” Mr Dametto said.
“A strong North Queensland needs to be underpinned by a network of well-resourced towns and that’s why I will continue to fight for prospects for small businesses, investing in tourism opportunities, improved healthcare and safer road conditions for our electorate.”
KAP Hill MP Shane Knuth said the KAP wanted to see a State Budget that was both pragmatic and aspirational.
“This Government has had a clear disconnect from those living in regional Queensland for quite some time – there has been a lack of leadership in funding vital services and building infrastructure that will make everyday life easier for regional Queenslanders,” he said.
“Health, crime, energy and housing are all major issues, which have continuously lacked the appropriate attention and funding from the State Government.
“The KAP have put forward sensible funding opportunities which would not only address this neglect, but also invest in major infrastructure projects to generate wealth to pay for these vital services.”