Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt.
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt. Mark Calleja

QLD Budget 2017: Jobs package could be a vote-winner

TUESDAY'S budget will be the Queensland Government's opening broadside into winning back support in regional Queensland and holding off a resurgent LNP.

A leading political analyst is predicting the budget centrepiece will be a massive jobs program targeting regional unemployment.

With the opposition leading in the polls and One Nation stubbornly hanging on at least 15% of the vote, Curtis Pitt's third budget will be vital for Labor's lead into the election.

In an exclusive interview with NewsRegional, Mr Pitt said the budget would focus on regional Queensland and aim to help areas that needed it most.

"My job as treasurer is to look after the Queensland economy, but to make sure that we prioritise and focus our efforts on the areas that need it most," he said.

"So, when you have a finite infrastructure budget and you've got a finite budget to spend on government programs that's got to go where you can make the biggest impact. And regional Queensland is still where that is most needed."

Mr Pitt said in parts of the state economic conditions and unemployment rates were improving.

Griffith University state political expert Paul Williams said he expected the government to "go all out" in targeting regional unemployment to win back support outside the south-east corner.

Prof Williams said it could take "a generation" for some parts of Queensland to recover from the post-mining boom crash.

"Everything is on the line for the government. They've got nothing to lose," he said.

"I expect some bells and whistles job projects will be the budget centrepiece. A big government investment in regional areas. At this stage its going to take at least a generation for some areas to recover from the mining boom."

The government has already received a major third-party jobs boost with Adani announcing it had financially committed to funding the Carmichael mine in central Queensland.

But green groups maintain Adani's announcement last week is meaningless without the company getting Federal Government and bank funding.

Mr Pitt said over the long term regional economies could not rely on a return to mining.

"Right now, in regional Queensland there has to be that shift from resource construction or mining construction into a more or a services based economy," he said.

"And in part we're seeing that in come regions having a significant pick up in the tourism industry. And we're also seeing a really strong rebound in terms of the agricultural production and how that's translating into greater exports."

The LNP have consistently targetted the government on the unemployment rate.

Shadow treasurer Scott Emerson said the government had failed to deliver its jobs promise.

"The reality is that Annastacia Palaszczuk's record on jobs is disastrous," he said.

"It's not good enough that Queensland has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country."

The government's budget will also have to attempt to curb support for One Nation in the regional seats Labor needs to win the next election.

Prof Williams said One Nation would be a key player in the next parliament with about one-in-six voters considered "rusted on" Pauline Hanson supporters.

"Labor seats like Mackay is possible to go to One Nation. It's hard to say exactly how many though because the LNP is being coy about preferences," he said.

"The only major party to say they will preference One Nation last is Labor. The LNP are still playing footsies with One Nation."

- NewsRegional



Kershaw's hidden past: a body, a bomb and a failed waterfall

premium_icon Kershaw's hidden past: a body, a bomb and a failed waterfall

From landfill to family favourite Kershaw Gardens holds some secrets

REVEALED: The special insects used to control our waterways

premium_icon REVEALED: The special insects used to control our waterways

The insects tackle aquatic weeds by laying larvae in plant stems

Metro collapse continues with $200k lease breach

premium_icon Metro collapse continues with $200k lease breach

COAST builder declared bankruptcy day before lawsuit was lodged

Local Partners