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Higher unemployment rate attributed to Qld Govt cost cutting

Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls.
Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls. Dave Hunt

OPPONENTS have leapt on bad news released by the Queensland Treasurer to land some blows over widespread cost-cutting which included the sacking of 14,000 workers.

The latest data showed unemployment at 0.25% higher than forecast in the September budget figures, rising to 6.25% as growth fell from 4% to 3.75%.

Both the Queensland Labor Party and public service union Together Queensland attributed both to what they described as the State Government's attacks on workers, frontline services and its own negativity about government debt.

These cuts were not enough to stop the government going deeper into debt - $11.2 billion from the September prediction of $10.7 billion.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls blamed the ugliness contained in the Mid Year Fiscal and Economic Review on worsening international conditions.

Mr Nicholls said the fall in both the value and amount of coal exports was largely to blame, as were state funding cuts made by the Federal Government.

He said the State remained enroute to deliver a $534 million surplus in the 2014/15 financial year.

Opposition treasury spokesman Curtis Pitt said the government was trying to hide from criticism by releasing the report so close to Christmas.

"The mid-year review shows worsening unemployment and deteriorating economic growth as a direct result of the LNP's slash-and-burn policies," Mr Pitt said.

"It is no wonder the Treasurer tried to release the latest budget mid-year review and its grim news a few days before Christmas when he thought nobody would pay much attention."

Together Queensland secretary Alex Scott said the LNP government had to begin to see workers and the community as humans doing it tough.

"Everyone knows that other than our politicians who continue with its cuts which are too fast and too deep," Mr Scott said.

"Unemployment is a human tragedy, not a statistic."

When quizzed on whether its "fiscal repair" - its term for slashing costs - was to blame for the poor report card, the Treasurer said the government's actions were "responsible and prudent".

Mr Nicholls said the policies "firewalled" the state as economic storms raged overseas.

"If we hadn't taken the steps we had taken both on expenditure side and on the revenue side, we would find ourselves in a much worse position as world conditions have deteriorated."

The Treasurer said any sale of government assets would only occur after a mandate from voters.

He said so far, such options had not been discussed by the government.

 

KEY FACTS

  • Qld Govt surplus to hit $535m in 2014/15.
  • State growth to fall from 3.75% this financial year to 3.5% in 2013/14.
  • Govt continuing plan to make $7.8b in savings.
  • Treasurer refuses to rule out further job cuts if conditions worsen.
  • Asset sales, if needed, would have to be decided by voters.

Topics:  budget, labor, lnp, public service, queensland government, tim nicholls, unemployment


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