All eyes on LNP leader as election cards laid on table

Savannah Meacham and Fraser Barton |

Keen to shed his “small target” tag, Opposition leader David Crisafulli is now firmly in the Queensland government’s sights after a major pre-election pitch.

The Liberal National Party leader emerged from recent criticism to deliver a plan to boost housing and small business in a state budget reply on Thursday.

Mr Crisafulli revealed a controversial energy project would be scrapped if the LNP won the October election, sparking another backlash.

The Opposition leader had been accused of trying to be a small target with few policies after leading opinion polls, even copping flack from ex-LNP premier Campbell Newman.

But Mr Crisafulli took centre stage on Thursday, focusing on housing in his reply to this week’s budget that featured billions of dollars in cost-of-living relief.

Mr Crisafulli said he would ditch stamp duty for first homebuyers who build their own house, saving more than $20,000.

He stood by Labor’s budget move to increase the stamp duty threshold up to $700,000, benefiting 10,000 Queenslanders.

The government aims to build one million homes by 2046 and Mr Crisafulli said the Opposition planned to match that by 2044.

A shared equity scheme would help potential homebuyers with at least a two per cent deposit on a $750,000 property close the gap on the purchase. It would be available as a trial for 1000 Queenslanders.

An LNP government would offer 30 per cent equity on new builds and 25 per cent on existing dwellings, costing about $165 million.

First-home owners would have any restrictions on renting their property removed under the LNP.

Mr Crisafulli had earlier copped criticism for accepting Labor government budget measures sight unseen, with Mr Newman describing the stance as “insane”.

Queensland housing
The LNP wants to cut stamp duty for first homebuyers who build their own house.
(Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

But the Opposition leader said he would scrap the controversial Pioneer Burdekin Pumped Hydro scheme.

It is the centrepiece of the government’s renewable energy transition plan, with the state budget featuring $1 billion in equity and $38.5 million in funding for the proposed project near Mackay.

“The Pioneer-Burdekin project is not feasible, it will never be built and the government knows it,” Mr Crisafulli said.

Instead an LNP government would provide smaller, more manageable pumped hydro projects.

Deputy Premier Cameron Dick said without pumped hydro the state’s “whole clean energy future” would fall over.

“That’s the bottom line for David Crisafulli, when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, there is no way to store that power and use that power without pumped hydro,” he said.

Small businesses would also benefit under the LNP with plans to provide simplified, direct government tenders to small businesses instead of them being subcontracted by a larger company.

The opposition would issue short-term contracts, up to $1 million, to businesses that have new, proven ideas that would improve government services.

“This October, Queenslanders will have a clear choice … between a fresh, united LNP with detailed plans to address the major issues or a tired, decade-old government with no new ideas,” Mr Crisafulli said.