Technology | Innovation

Innovation, investment and infrastructure top priorities for Queensland

“Growing innovation, attracting investment and building infrastructure,” are the three economic goals for Queensland’s future and the focus of the 2016-17 State Budget according to Queensland Treasurer, the Hon. Curtis Pitt.

Delivering the 2016 State Budget address to a CEDA audience in Brisbane, Mr Pitt said the three economic goals are all aimed at creating jobs.

“It’s a Budget that addresses the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us, most importantly though it is unashamedly a jobs budget,” he said.

Mr Pitt said innovation is about growing new industries, broadening existing ones and creating jobs of the future.

“Innovation isn’t just confined to test tubes or lab coats or even high-tech,” he said.

“What we must do is ensure we bring innovation into everything we do across government.”

On infrastructure Mr Pitt said cross-river rail is a priority with a $50 million down payment already made by the State Government.

“We want to see this project go ahead, it is recognised as Infrastructure Australia’s number one priority in Queensland, it’s certainly our government’s number one priority,” he said.

Mr Pitt said the state wide infrastructure plan released earlier this year helps industry engage with government and plan for the future on key projects. 

“We know infrastructure is key to meeting industry and community demands, it’s part of achieving improved productivity in export performance,” he said.

“We’re spending more than $40 billion on infrastructure over the next four years, $10.7 of that is in the 2016-17 year alone.”

Mr Pitt said the $10.7 billion pledged in the Budget will help support around 31,000 jobs this year alone.

On investment, Mr Pitt said Queensland needs to attract investment from international businesses and also encourage local business investment.

“It’s about attracting investment through an aggressive campaign to lure interstate and overseas businesses here,” he said. 

Discussing the economic and fiscal climate more broadly, Mr Pitt said there are some challenges including the lower global demand for coal, revenue write-downs and a transitioning economy.

“There are some choppy waters but certainly we’re facing those upfront and framing our budget to directly respond to those challenges,” he said. 

On the unemployment rate, Mr Pitt said since January 2015 to now, the trend unemployment rate has dropped from 6.6 per cent to 6.4 per cent.

Lowering the unemployment rate and creating jobs in regional Queensland is especially important and a focus of the State Budget with $100 million in the Budget for regional back to work programs.

“We still have a lot of work to do and know the climate is challenged but at the moment we have seen a turn-around in unemployment,” he said.

The forward estimate for revenue growth is forecast to be 3.2 per cent and expenses growth is slightly lower than that at 2.9 per cent, he said.

“Despite the revenue write-downs the Palaszczuk Government is forecasting surpluses over the next four years to a combined total of $3.2 billion,” he said.