Premier’s $3.2b war chest to beat Covid-19 impact
PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has been handed an unprecedented $3.2 billion cheque to use as she wishes in the economic and health fight against COVID-19.
For only the second time in recent history, the State Government has set up an emergency fund to give the Government the ability to respond rapidly to issues that arise in the health system or the economy.
The Government last night set up the surprise credit line for 2019-20, known as a Treasurer's Advance, in what will be the first time such an advance has been used since the Global Financial Crisis.
Treasurer Jackie Trad said the funds would protect citizens, preserve industries, invest in productive public services and "plan for an economic recovery that sustains us all".
"COVID-19 poses the single largest threat to the global economy since the Great Depression," she said.
"In the past four weeks, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits - a figure nine times higher than in the worst month of the Global Financial Crisis."
She said $311 million in payroll relief for business and $9 million in relief for commercial landlords had been paid out.
The Government has announced it expects to spend $4 billion in total across its economic rescue package and COVID-19 health response.
But $3.2 billion within that still remains to be earmarked for specific programs that would help unemployed people get a job, or that would fund medical equipment like hospital masks or additional ventilators.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said spending was "very measured", although she was mindful of the ratings agencies and any potential for a ratings downgrade.
The legislation passed after a one-day session of parliament, where the watered-down rental reforms that were part of a COVID-19 omnibus Bill were also expected to be passed late last night.
Meanwhile the Government yesterday appointed two Labor-led committees to oversee its COVID-19 response, sparking Opposition outrage that it was a case of "Caesar judging Caesar".
The Economics and Governance Committee, which is chaired by Labor's Linus Power, will conduct an inquiry into both the Government and Federal Government's economic response.
And the Health, Communities, Disability Support and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee, chaired by Labor's Aaron Harper, will oversee the health response.
The LNP had been calling for an Opposition-led committee to oversee the response to have some independent oversight, as has been adopted in other jurisdictions.
Manager of Opposition Business Jarrod Bleijie said the matters should be investigated by a "proper body".
"What I'm not confident is that a Labor dominated chair... will make recommendations or, in fact, hold the government to account," Mr Bleijie said.
Originally published as Premier's $3.2b war chest to beat Covid-19 impact