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Crisafulli lashes Labor budget for borrowing not building

Politics

Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli is highly critical of Labor’s decision to borrow more. But he has yet to come up with alternatives.

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Crisafulli made the comments after Treasurer Cameron Dick on Tuesday delivered a delayed state budget forecasting $130 billion in borrowings within four years. That is despite little in the way of new capital works spending, and deficits predicted throughout.

Crisafulli, who replaced Deb Frecklington as leader after the election, said Labor had misled voters and undermined future Queenslanders.

“This budget locks us into a generation of borrowing for today, not building for tomorrow,” Crisafulli told parliament in his formal budget reply speech.

While Crisafulli called on the government to fast-track Labor election promises, costed at $4 billion in borrowings, he was highly critical of the budget decision to borrow more than that. He cited advice from ratings agencies that it would “severely limit the state’s ability to respond to future economic shocks”.

“When the government sought a mandate from the public it repeatedly used the figure of $4 billion; nowhere was a request of $28 billion ever whispered,” Crisafulli said.

However, Crisafulli did not propose any alternatives to borrowing more, and separately called on the government to bring forward capital works spending to deliver “job-creating infrastructure to re-capture our mojo of years gone by”. He said that could be achieved through as-yet unidentified cost saving measures.

“In the months and years ahead we will forensically review the government’s expenditure,” Crisafulli said.

“Where waste is identified, we will highlight it forcefully and show how those savings could alleviate the bring forward cost of capital.

“Those opposite will say their planning timeframes can’t be changed. As Recovery Minister (in the Newman Government), I witnessed how quickly infrastructure can be mobilised during a disaster.”

Crisafulli accused the government of arrogance in celebrating how many jobs had been put back on, when Queensland was still forecast to have a high unemployment rate in coming years.

“Jobs are the litmus test for the budget,” he said.

“Despite all the glossy brochures and debt, more Queenslanders will be jobless.”

Noting how Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had taken to comparing Queensland borrowings to those of the NSW Government, Crisafulli highlighted how NSW would still increase the state’s net worth whereas in Queensland it would “stagnate”.

“These borrowings are mortgaging the future generations of Queenslanders to pay for today’s economic mismanagement by this government,” he said.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles was the first to react to Crisafulli’s speech, which he labelled “disappointing’ and suggested the lack of alternative plans was a tacit endorsement of the public service cuts and austerity measures of the former Newman Government.

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