A plan to slash $3 billion in costs from Queensland's public sector has so far identified just $3 million in savings, prompting opposition accusations the government was attempting one of the "greatest get-rich schemes of all time".

In September Treasurer Cameron Dick pledged to implement a Debt and Savings plan, which would deliver $3 billion in savings for the government over four years.

The savings would be found through the establishment of the Queensland Future Fund to pay down debt and the consolidation or abolition of some government services including the state's Productivity Commission, Building Queensland and the Public Safety Business Agency.

However, a report by Queensland Parliament's Economics and Governance Committee on the Debt Reduction and Savings Bill reveals only $3 million in annual savings had been identified to date.

Queensland Treasury acknowledged the savings were "modest" in the overall push to find $3 billion in savings, however, Mr Dick said the legislation would send "a strong signal" to the state that financial reform was needed.

"The increase in debt brought on by COVID means we must work harder to reduce its burden," he said.

"A core feature of this Bill is to restructure the balance sheet of the state of Queensland to reduce the burden of debt."

 

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said the government had already found more than $350m in savings. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said the government had already found more than $350m in savings. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

 

However, the Committee's opposition MPs slammed the proposal as having "little impact" on the Queensland economy.

"The Debt Reduction and Savings Bill 2021 may have the most misleading title to ever pass

through this parliament," they wrote.

"There is no real debt reduction proposed nor is there any significant savings to be identified.

"In relation to the $3 billion over four years promised by the Treasurer … the Committee was told there was only to $3 million identified so far - quite a long way to go in a relative short space of time."

Mr Dick said separate austerity measures had already found more than $350 million in savings.

In the December State Budget the government revealed revenue fell $12.3 billion lower than predicted while government debt was forecast to reach $130 billion by 2023-24.

Under the government's Debt Reduction and Savings Proposal, the Queensland Productivity Commission would be integrated into Treasury, Building Queensland merged with the Department of State Development and the Public Safety Business Agency abolished.

The government would also be no longer required to publish announcements in print newspapers.

The Committee, chaired by Labor MP Linus Power, recommended Queensland parliament pass the Bill, which is set to be introduced next week.

Originally published as $3b savings pledge falls $2.997b short



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