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Time to build a Queensland for the future – Ai Group 2018-19 State Budget submission

The Australian Industry Group's pre-Budget statement released today calls on the Queensland Government to speed up infrastructure roll-outs, get serious about supporting business and future-focussed jobs, and set a clear pathway for the type of economy we want to build over the next 30 years.

"Queensland is well placed to have the most prosperous period of its history given its proximity to the growth economies of Asia, rich mineral deposits, high quality food industry and an emerging advanced manufacturing and high-technology sector," Ai Group Queensland Head, Shane Rodgers, said today.

"To truly capitalise on this opportunity, the State needs a clear sense of where it is headed and where it will place its 'big bets'. It needs an infrastructure, skills and innovation plan that creates the conditions for business and the workforce to adapt and thrive over decades, not just until the next election.

"Long-term planning needs to be approached on a largely bi-partisan basis and this planning needs to factor in the known growth parameters.

"We cannot afford a situation like we have now with both major highways into the capital city (the M1 and the Bruce Highway) reaching choke point and putting daily commuter and business movements into slow motion.

"The level of population and traffic growth has been known for years. Yet we still wait until our infrastructure reaches crisis point before we act.

"The population of south-east Queensland alone is expected to grow by another 1.5 million people over the next 20 years. We need transport systems, cityscapes and social infrastructure that support that level of growth.

"The State also needs a clear plan to capitalise on the exposure from the recent Commonwealth Games and the 2014 G20 Leaders Summit. Both events represented a significant investment by the people of Queensland.

"Off the back of this we need a clear strategy to establish our credentials as a great destination, but also as a serious player in the Asia Pacific. Our international proposition as a state needs to be clear," Mr Rodgers said.

The Ai Group 2018-19 budget submission calls for:

  • Policy settings sensitive to the range of challenges facing businesses and hindering growth. This includes rising energy costs, slow productivity growth, a high burden of regulation and significant emerging skills shortages.
  • Fast tracking of infrastructure projects. This includes finding more creative ways to fund infrastructure, such as offloading public assets that don't need public ownership and developing a better model for market-led proposals and public-private partnerships. Particular emphasis is needed on the M1 and Bruce Highway.
  • Despite the recent improving trend, average infrastructure spending is forecast to be only 11.4% of total government spending over the next two years compared with the 10-year average of 14.2%.
  • Revolutionary change to the education and training systems to create the pipeline of skills needed for the new economy, including high level STEM and digital skills.
  • A serious commitment to the Advance Queensland program and helping companies harness innovation and commercialise it to domestic and global markets.
  • A commitment to no further tax increases in 2018-19 and an ongoing commitment to reduce and ultimately abolish payroll tax.
  • A stronger focus on genuine red tape reduction, including assigning the task to a senior Cabinet minister and getting serious about regulation reduction targets.
  • Fiscal settings to encourage growth (that will also lift state revenue) but also highly disciplined government spending to progressively bring the state out of its current “challenging” financial position. This includes outsourcing of government services to private enterprise when this makes sense.

Read Ai Group's submission in full

Further comment:
Shane Rodgers – 0423 021 268