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Big promises leave giant questions about where money will come from

Politics

Economic management became a defining issue of the pre-election campaign as the promises from both sides came under scrutiny.

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk continued to push the law and order theme yesterday by opening a new $52 million police operational training centre at Wacol and dedicating it to former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

It followed a $627 million promise for additional police which it said was fully funded.

However, there are questions about how the Government can include future funding when it did not include forward estimates in his economic update and won’t know its true funding ability until after the Federal Budget, next week.

The LNP also threw $33 billion into the mix with its plan to widen the Bruce Highway from Cairns to Gympie, a scheme which needs the bulk of funding to come from the Federal Government.

It has also been accused of having a $6.7 billion Budget hole because of its promise not to increase borrowings if it wins the election.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said this was impossible to achieve because there was a $6.7 billion fall in revenue from the impacts of the pandemic and if the LNP was not going to borrow it would have to cut.

“Revenue has collapsed in Queensland,” the Treasurer said.

“Some aspects of operational services will have to be funded by borrowings.

“Unless you cut $6.7 billion out of the public sector you have to borrow to deliver frontline services.”

Adept Economics economist Gene Tunny said it was clear the State Government would have to run large deficits for several years and total state debt will climb further, probably to somewhere in the $113 billion to $118 billion range by 2023-24.

“Yet the government is committing to a large permanent increase in the size of the public service, albeit on arguably much-needed “frontline” police officers,” Tunny said.

“What strain will be placed on future budgets by this surge in police numbers, plus all the additional election commitments to come, plus the interest on the Government’s additional borrowings? Will the state government need to increase taxes in the future to bring the operating balance into surplus? Quite possibly.”

The Government also said there had been no new COVID-19 cases in Queensland overnight, leaving only eight active cases. Victoria said its new cases had fallen to five.

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