Australia Qld set for lower than expected deficit
Thousands queue for COVID-19 jabs at Queensland vaccine hubs
Long queues have formed outside community vaccine hubs across Queensland this weekend, with health authorities bracing for a major turnout as part of their statewide vaccine blitz. Authorities were initially expecting to administer some 15,000 vaccine doses across 18 hubs this weekend, but the state's newly appointed vaccine coordinator, Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Chelepy, said that figure was now expected to be far higher. He announced several more vaccination hubs would open across the state in the coming days to manage the demand.
The Queensland government's deficit is set to be lower than expected as economic growth picks up in this financial year.
Treasurer Cameron Dick, who hands down the budget on Tuesday, is due to reveal economic growth in 2020/21 totalled 3.25 per cent, which would be well above the forecast 0.25 per cent in December.
He says that means the forecast 2020/21 deficit of $8.63 billion will be revised down in the 2021/22 budget papers.
The improvement in the bottom line will prevent the state government's total debt from hitting a record $110 billion this financial year.
Can you get a COVID-19 vaccination yet? State-by-state guide
While every state and territory in Australia is now rolling out the coronavirus vaccine, the rules on who can get them in each area varies.While every state and territory in Australia is now rolling out the coronavirus vaccine, the rules on who can get them varies slightly.
That could delay Mr Dick's forecast of total debt reaching almost $130 billion by 2023/24.
"The numbers are looking good for Queensland," Mr Dick told reporters on Monday.
"As I've said; debt will be lower, deficits will be lower, and that's the dividend that we will be returning to Queenslanders through increased services, through more infrastructure, and through a larger number of jobs."
The flagship item in Tuesday's budget is another $1.5 billion over four years for the government's renewable energy strategy.
The funding, in addition to $500 million previously allocated, will be for government-owned firms to set up new renewable projects or enter public-private partnerships.
Mr Dick has flagged $100 million in funding for regional health care, $460 million for job skills and training programs and $73 million for attracting film production to the state over the next four years.
Qld premier rounds on Victorian couple
A Melbourne couple infected with coronavirus should not have travelled to Queensland putting people at risk, the Queensland premier says.Annastacia Palaszczuk says there have been no cases of community transmission so far, and that's very encouraging. But she's also warned Queensland is not yet out of the woods.
Video: QLD Premier says state is being short-changed in budget (ABC NEWS)
However, capital spending will be cut by $147 million from last year's $14.835 billion figure as COVID-19 stimulus is wound back.
In the 2020/21 budget, capital expenditure was set to be $56.03 billion over the forward estimates.
Mr Dick said this year's forecast is $52.21 billion between 2021/22 and 2024/25.
That's a projected annual outlay of $12.05 billion after the current financial year, down from the $13.7 billion per year envisaged after 2020/21 in the last budget.
The cut in spending will help address the total government debt, which is forecast to reach almost $130 billion by 2023/24.
The treasurer said the Labor government would still be spending $50 billion over the forward estimates, which was a 2020 election pledge.
"It's a promise we made when we delivered our economic recovery plan," Mr Dick said.
"We locked it into our budget last year, and will continue to deliver that investment which will create and support tens of thousands of construction jobs across Queensland."
The treasurer said the Labor government would keep its promise of no tax increases or new taxes in its current term.
However, he will introduce a new driver's licence transfer fee of $78.75 for people moving to the state.
Mr Dick expects the measure to raise about $17 million over three years.
Sydney News: Mice plague force evacuation of Wellington Correctional Centre in central west NSW .
MORNING BRIEFING: More than 400 inmates and 200 staff at the Wellington Correctional Centre will be evacuated to other facilities from today because of a mice infestation. Correctional Services NSW said the mice have caused extensive damage to infrastructure, and pose a risk to the health of prisoners and workers. Staff will be offered training or relocated to other centres in the region while inmates will be transferred across the state over the next 10 days. The NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said the facility would be deep-cleaned and repaired so it is safe in the event of another mouse plague.