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Mines give Treasurer deep pockets as he struggles to balance budget priorities


Queensland’s budget will be a test of priorities for Treasurer Cameron Dick as people juggle rising costs for essentials including electricity and housing.

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An economy bouncing back from the pandemic, expected hikes on coal royalties and increased taxes on gambling firms will give Dick room to move in his third budget on Tuesday.

“Our revenue lines are coming back and that’s because of the great work of Queenslanders, they fought hard against COVID-19,” he said earlier this month.

Dick is expected to spend $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion more than the government makes in 2022/23, which is $900 million lower than his deficit forecast six months ago.

There will then be two more budget deficits before an expected return to surplus in 2024/25.

The treasurer has laid the groundwork with a series of pre-budget announcements including a $750 million cancer centre in Brisbane, and a $200 million fund for new roads and sewage systems to spur housing development in the southeast.

A further $35 million will go towards studies for pumped hydropower storage projects and $13 million will be invested in the National Battery Testing Centre in Brisbane.

But Dick is facing pressure to spend more on health and housing.

Another $700 million is needed in mental health programs alone, the Australian Medical Association Queensland says.

“The Queensland government retains the disappointing title of being the Australian jurisdiction with the lowest investment in mental health per head of population in Australia,” AMAQ president Dr Maria Boulton said.

More too needs to be done to ensure Queenslanders have safe and secure housing as they face a tight rental market.

There are more than 50,000 people on the public housing waiting list, Queensland Council of Social Services chief executive Aimee McVeigh says.

“There are Queensland women and children right now living in cars, tents and motels because there is nowhere else to go,” she said.

“These Queenslanders cannot keep waiting for the wheels of government to turn to find a safe home to live in.”

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