Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick will outline further borrowings to stimulate the economy that could push the state’s debt above $106 billion.
Dick will hand down his first full budget on Dec. 1, with the bottom line set to be deeply distorted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Queensland’s economy is sluggish with unemployment at 7.7 percent and 209,000 people out of work.
Net debt was forecast to hit $101.96 billion by June 2021, up from the $83.8 billion predicted in December, in a financial and economic update delivered in early September.
The Labor government has already borrowed another $4 billion on top of that to fund an $11 billion stimulus plan.
Dick will unveil plans to borrow even more money to fund the government’s deficits on Tuesday.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queensland’s books will still look better than other states.
“Our debt will be a lot, lot, lot lower than NSW and Victoria,” she told reporters.
Shadow treasurer David Janetzki said Dick mislead voters about the amount of money he planned to borrow and what it would be used for.
“It is very tricky language and it’s now looking like Queensland will be in for a big surprise in tomorrow’s budget,” he told reporters.
“It is a test for the treasurer, it is a real test, and if it’s true it will be the first broken promise—the first broken promise of the Palaszczuk Labor government this term.”
Janetzki admitted there was a place for debt especially during the pandemic, but it needed to be used wisely.
He said government borrowings should fund things like infrastructure and economic productivity measures.
“We can’t have a situation where we’re just incurring more debt just to keep the lights on,” he said.
“We’ve got to be putting debt to good use.”
But Palaszczuk said there would be no surprises in the budget, which will focus on delivering Labor’s election commitments.
“They’ll (the opposition) see that we are honouring our election commitments,” she added.
By Marty Silk in Brisbane