The Queensland Government delivered a budget indicating that they are focused on three priorities: more jobs in more industries; delivering better services; and protecting the Queensland lifestyle.
The Queensland government is keen to spruik there post-COVID-19 recovery through highlighting faster economic growth (state final demand up 7.8% since March 2020), stronger jobs recovery (up 206,000 since March 2020) and increased workforce participation (up 5.6% since May 2020).
There is a strong emphasis on increased retail trade (retail turnover up by 26% since February 2020), an increased net operating surplus 2021–22 ($1.9 billion), faster business investment growth than the rest of Australia (up 10.7% over the past year) and faster merchandise export growth than any other state or territory (up $41.6 billion over the past year).
The Budget incorporates a public sector wage policy of 2.5% increases, and points to this being higher than the Brisbane CPI increases for the period 2015-16 to 2020-21. Maintaining this wages policy will be challenging with more substantial real cost increases and forecast cost increases that are higher for the period ahead.
Queensland has outperformed other states during the recovery from COVID-19, with the economy 7.8% larger than it was prior to the pandemic. A key driver of this growth has been net migration, with 54,500 people choosing to call Queensland home between June 2020 and September 2021. This has been a factor in the increased employment growth, with an extra 206,000 people in employment in Queensland since March 2020, and unemployment has dropped to 4.0%, and a participation rate of 67.2%.
While the budget points to historically low rates of unemployment, insecure employment remains, and more working Australians continue to be engaged as independent contractors or casuals, with minimal employment protections or access to pay increases, the number of hours of work that they want and core employment conditions.
The Budget predicts economic growth over 2021-22 to be 3%, 1% higher than 2020-21, and then grow at 2.75% for the remainder of the forward estimates. The Queensland Budget predicts that unemployment will stay between 4 – 4.25% up until 2025-26.
The Budget acknowledges ongoing supply-chain risks and the uncertainty, and some known price increases due to the conflict in Ukraine and because of a zero-COVID-19 policy in China.
The Budget forecasts expenses to be less than revenue growth over the 4 years. It is predicted that the surge in prices of coal and oil will not remain at their current levels and the current net surplus of $1.9 billion will fall into a slight net deficit in 2022-23 and 2023-24, returning to surplus after that.
The Budget forecasts net debt to grow from $11.39 billion today to $39.21 billion by 2025-26.
Professionals Australia continues to call for strategic investment in emerging knowledge-based industries, investment in residential construction and civil infrastructure, and to invest heavily in STEM industries, health and allied health services, education, and professions which will have lasting positive economic effects.