Queensland Government to Open Books Ahead of State Election

September 6, 2020 Updated: September 7, 2020

The Queensland government will reveal just how damaging the COVID-19 has been to its finances as miners demand certainty on royalties just eight weeks out from the state election.

Treasurer Cameron Dick will deliver a mini-budget on Sept. 7 before he’s questioned about it by the parliament’s economics and governance committee on Sept. 11.

It will be the last chance for voters to assess Labor’s economic credentials before the Oct. 31 election.

The government cancelled its 2020/21 budget but Dick has already indicated the books are in bad shape due to the pandemic.

The treasurer revealed in July that net debt would surpass $100 billion by June 2021, a jump of almost $17 billion over the forward estimates in December, which is the same amount the federal government spent on its March stimulus plan.

Despite a predicted 20 percent surge in debt, the government is spending $6 billion in health and economic initiatives to weather the pandemic.

The 20 percent surge in net debt was expected to come with a $6.5 billion fall in revenue planned over 2019/20 and 2020/21, driven by shrinking GST allocations and mining royalties.

Before the mini-budget Sept. 7, mining companies were putting pressure on the government to offer them 10 years of royalty stability.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane says that certainty will attract new investors, get large-scale projects off the ground, create jobs and secure billions more in royalties.

“This is an opportunity for the government to secure Queensland’s future post-COVID,” he said.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said on Friday she was looking for the Labor government to deliver a budget this year because it was the only state that had not.

“If you don’t have a budget you don’t have a plan and if you don’t have a plan you’ve got no recovery out of COVID,” she said.