Billion-dollar blowout for public service wages
QUEENSLAND'S public service wages bill will come in at almost $1 billion more over the next four financial years than initially estimated, jumping almost $200 million in 2018/19 alone, new figures show.
It comes as the state's overall debt is set to top $83 billion over the next few years.
Treasurer Jackie Trad this afternoon handed down her Mid Year Fiscal and Economic Review and while coal royalties and the surplus were up on estimates, debt and employee expenses are on the rise as well.
The figures show employee expenses are estimated to come in at $23.987 billion this financial year, up from the $23.807 billion estimated in the June Budget, an increase of $180 million.
All up the MYFER shows the wages bill will come in at $925 million between 2018/19 and 21/22 than initially estimated in June.
Ms Trad insisted the Government would still be meeting its fiscal principle to keep wages growth in line with population growth, despite the increasing bill.
Debt is also expected to be higher this financial year with the general government sector borrowings to be $931 million more than initially estimated in the June Budget for the 2018/19 financial year with the increase blamed on the repatriation of surplus assets in relation to the defined benefits superannuation scheme.
A drop in Queensland's GST allocation has also been blamed for debt being $584 million higher than expected in 2021/22.
The state's overall debt is set to top $83.5 billion by 2020-21, a slight increase on previous projections.
"Over the forward estimates in terms of average employee expenditure we will see that (FTE growth) remain in line with population growth," Ms Trad said.
"But we made some commitments at the last election that we will see through.
"We committed to more doctors, we committed to more nurses, we are opening new schools in our state for our growing population."
Ms Trad said the state's debt level was manageable and in line with other Australian states.
"Our debt levels are about building the infrastructure that Queensland needs," Ms Trad said.
"We just had the Victorian Government go to an election promising to fund their infrastructure spends by doubling their levels of debt. In NSW we have a government borrowing $13 billion over the next four years alone to build infrastructure.
Queensland is spending 2.5 per cent of its total economic output for 2018-19 on infrastructure, with that figure set to rise to 2.9 per cent in 2019-20.
Despite the state's coffers being boosted by coal royalties, the treasurer played down the importance of the sector to the state's bottom line.
"I'm looking forward to the continued diversification of our economy," she said.
Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane said without coal royalties the budget would have been in the red this year and for the foreseeable future.
"The Queensland (coal) industry is not only employing over 300,000 Queenslanders, it's not only supporting small businesses, but it's paying the wages of teachers, doctors, nurses and police," Mr Macfarlane said.
LNP Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander accused the Government of abandoning its plan to pay down debt and manage its spending.
"It's totally alarming that despite record royalties, the debt is still going out," Mr Mander said.
"These royalties won't be there forever, so it's important we invest them in job producing infrastructure."
The state's unemployment rate remained steady at 6.25 per cent, currently the worst rate of any state or territory in Australia, with employment growth steady on 1.5 per cent.
The State Government also unveiled a $70 million Build to Rent scheme as part of MYFER, to deliver affordable rental properties in Brisbane's inner-city by partnering with the private sector.