The Queensland government will invest an extra $100 million in regional health and aged care, but slash capital spending by $147 million in the next week’s budget.
Treasurer Cameron Dick says $426 million from existing health funds will be invested in new and upgraded hospitals outside Brisbane in Tuesday’s budget.
Another $100 million in new funding will go towards regional health and aged care, mostly in the state’s remote southwest corner.
“One of the most fundamental lessons we learned about COVID is that if first you protect the health of your people, then your economy and jobs will grow,” he told AAP.
“That is what we see in Queensland today – an economy that is roaring back to life.
“Not in spite of our disciplined focus on getting the health response right – but precisely because of it.
“And in a state as large and decentralised as Queensland it’s vital we deliver those services to Queenslanders right across the state, no matter where they live.”
The treasurer said of that $100 million, about $70 million will be invested in aged care and health infrastructure in Camooweal, St George, Morven, Charleville and Blackwater.
Another $12.5 million will be spent on aged care in the Indigenous community of Woorabinda, $12.4 million for health care in Windorah and $7.2 million on healthcare in Moura.
While there’s a boost to regional health care funding, the government’s capital expenditure will drop sharply in 2021/22.
Public spending on roads, railways, ports energy and government-owned corporations will the cut by almost $150 million, or 9.0 per cent, to $14.68 billion this year.
Mr Dick says the fall from last year’s $14.83 billion spend is due to COVID-19 stimulus programs being wound back this financial year.
“Well obviously we had to make a significant stimulus investment, a significant stimulus injection in the year of COVID, which is what we did in our last budget,” he said.
The treasurer has also lowered his forecast for capital expenditure over the next four years.
In the 2020/21 budget, capital expenditure was set to be $56.03 billion over the forward estimates.
Mr Dick says this year’s budget forecast is $52.21 billion between 2021/22 and 2024/25.
That’s a projected annual outlay of $12.05 billion after the current financial year, down from the $13.7 billion per year envisaged after 2020/21 in the last budget.
The treasurer said the Labor government would still be spending $50 billion over the forward estimates, which was a 2020 election pledge.
He said the capital works program will drive economic growth and support 46,500 jobs across the state.
“Maintaining a strong capital programme will ensure Queensland’s economic recovery recovery continues to gather momentum, while at the same time positioning the economy to capitalise on key opportunities to facilitate longer term growth,” Mr Dick added.
The Queensland state budget is due to be handed down on Tuesday morning.