Queensland budget forecast to be at least $3b deficit

Savannah Meacham |

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick has announced the budget will forecast a deficit of around $3b.
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick has announced the budget will forecast a deficit of around $3b.

Queensland has forecast a budget blowout of at least a $3 billion as a result of the cost-of-living relief the state government is delivering.

Treasurer Cameron Dick says the June budget will forecast a deficit of about $3 billion for 2024/25 financial year.

It is set to ease to less than $1 billion the following year.

“While our government would like to see a surplus in the next two financial years, that will not come at the cost of Queensland families running deficits on their household budgets,” Mr Dick said in a statement on Tuesday.

The blowout comes amid major state government spending on cost-of-living measures, housing and health.

Qld Cameron Dick
Cameron Dick says the government is determined to keep inflation as low as possible. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

But $3 billion may only be the minimum deficit, as Mr Dick flagged the figure is subject to change as the final numbers are crunched.

“These are deliberate choices that all political parties must make whether to prioritise people or numbers on a balance sheet,” he told parliament.

The treasurer says the measures are necessary and dipping into the bottom line is a worthwhile investment.

“If we have to borrow to deliver our cost-of-living measures, then that is what we will do, but we will do so in a way that keeps inflation as low as possible,” Mr Dick said.

The opposition said it was poor financial management.

“(There are) deficits across the horizon, whether it be the state or federal budget,” Shadow Treasurer David Janetzki told parliament.

“Never has a Queensland government spent more, borrowed more, or taxed more and left Queenslanders with less to show for it.”

The government managed to deliver a $4.3 billion surplus in 2021/22 and a record $13.9 billion surplus in 2022/23.

That was on the back of coal royalties supporting Queensland’s post-pandemic boom, which had been forecast to boost revenue by $9.4 billion over five years.

This upcoming financial year was also previously forecast to remain in surplus.

Mr Dick revealed in April keeping the budget in balance would be difficult, with state debt forecast to reach $188 billion in four years.

Homes in a new housing estate at Ipswich (file image)
The Queensland government is investing heavily to provide more housing. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Even with the looming budget red line, the state government has invested significantly on housing, cost-of-living relief and health over the past financial year and is forecast to do the same in the upcoming budget.

The investment includes the “Big Build” plan to deliver one million homes by 2046, costing the treasury’s coffers $3.1 billion.

There is also the $2.5 billion cost-of-living centrepiece of the budget – which has been factored into the 2023/24 finances – to provide $1000 in energy rebates to all Queenslanders from July.

Premier Steven Miles backed the decision to fall into deficit.

“We are taxing multinational mining companies and we are going forward to deficit and I believe that is the right decision for Queensland right now,” he said.

“This budget will be all about (Queenslanders).”