State staring in face of $100b debt



QUEENSLAND'S debt will sail past $100 billion by next year as revenues collapse and the Budget heads for a $8.4 billion deficit this year.

But Treasurer Cameron Dick says he still hopes to have Queensland back in the black in four years' time.

Mr Dick announced the 2019-20 had ended with a $5.9 billion deficit instead of the $151 million surplus predicted in MYFER as he revealed GST receipts had fallen by $2.5 billion over two years.

By July 2020, that deficit will be $8.4 billion.

"Combined with the $1 billion fall in revenue from state taxes and royalties in the second half of 2019-20, the GST cuts mean that Queensland faces a fall in revenue since MYFER of at least $6.5 billion over 2019-20 and 2020-21," he said.

At the same time, it has spent $6 billion on COVID health and the economic initiatives, he said.

Mr Dick said the "sobering numbers" could only get better by "firing up the economy" and finding "responsible savings".

Total debt will now reach $100.7 billion by June 2020, up from the $83.8 billion predicted in December, with half of that on the books of government-owned corporations.

"I don't like borrowing money, I wish we weren't in this position but COVID has made it that way," Mr Dick said.

"We have no choice because the only way to avoid a deficit would be to drastically cut back on the services that Queenslanders deserve and remove supports from the economy."

"While our target is to return to balance over the forward estimates, putting a number on that in this volatile economic time is very problematic," he said.

"I'm going to go like steam over the forward estimates to try to get us back into balance.

"I can't guarantee that but I'll be working as hard as I can."

"We've got two difficult years … these are the most difficult years we will face.

"This is the most difficult situation our state has been in outside wartime."

Meanwhile, Mr Dick announced his plans to fill the $5 billion Future Fund, which was meant to be funded by skimming from the defined benefits superannuation surplus and using the fund to offset debt.

Instead, just $1 billion will be taken from the defined benefits scheme and the rest will be made up with assets.

Cross River Rail precincts worth $160 million and the Queensland Titles Register, worth $4 billion, will be transferred into the fund.


Originally published as State staring in face of $100b debt

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