North Queensland State Budget 2024: Our Fair Share Analysis

#townsville 2024

The Queensland State Budget is the last budget before the state election in October.  It is a large spending budget that relies on northern mining assets to fund a lot of its expenditure.  From $1,000 electricity subsidies to $200 kids sporting vouchers to a Big Building program with more jobs and regions are being told they are getting “Our Fair Share”; but are they?

This is a typical end of political cycle state budget.  This budget will produce a $3 Billion public deficit and add to the states growing public debt.  Debt is expected to grow significantly over the next four years to $188Billion.  Debt of course belongs to all Queenslanders.  We all pay for it but we don’t share the benefits equally.

The classic example in this budget is the public transport and airport train subsidies.  Public transport discount will cost $150m benefiting SEQ in the main.  We estimate that with 18% of state population North Queensland* will only get 4.4-4.7% of this transport cost of living relief. Public transport access and use is much better and higher is SEQ. Take up rate will be higher in Brisbane than North Queensland. Then add the Brisbane airport train subsidised and most of this cost of living relief will benefit Brisbane and SEQ rather than the North.

Increase stamp duty threshold from $500k to $700k for first home buyers looks positive in theory by is likely to have an unintended outcome in regional Q.  As it increases borrowing capacity it could further fuel median price and new home price increases, hindering cost of living assistance.

Clayton Cook, TP Human Capital comment:

“While the budget boasts substantial investments across various sectors, it starkly highlights the persistent inequities between the population-dense south-eastern corner and the industrious north. Despite North Queensland's significant contributions to the state's economy—making up a third of the state's economy—the allocation of resources remains disproportionately skewed. With Treasurer Cameron Dick's pre-election budget focusing on short-term cost-of-living relief and political gains, North Queensland's needs for sustained public investment and economic development are overshadowed. Our region's capacity to attract and retain skilled talent, drive economic development, and support thriving communities hinges on equitable public investment. It's time for North Queensland to truly receive our fair share, ensuring balanced growth and prosperity for all Queenslanders."

Our Fair Share

North Queensland* has joined the 1 million Club.  North Queensland (NQ) is the combination of several major northern region's FNQ, Northern and North West Q, Mackay/Isaac/Whitsundays and Central Q including Rockhampton, Gladstone and Central Highlands.  In 2023 NQ’s population reached over 1 million residents.  The Northern and North West region is the largest population zone with 308,420 residents, FNQ is a close second with 265,366. There are more people living north of the Burdekin than live in Tasmania.

NQ Population Contribution

NQ Economic Contribution

North Queensland is a very productive zone.  Its Gross Regional Product is close to a third of the state economy.  Its population represents around 18% of the state.

NQ Per Capita Economic Contribution

On a per capita basis, the north contributes more than its fair share to Queensland's economy and state budget revenue.  This year’s state budget is crucial for Northern businesses and residents and it's important to recognise the Norths contribution in state public recurrent and capital expenditures.

On a per capita basis most, northern regions did not receive their fair share.  Interestingly Mackay/Isaac/Whitsundays region is the most productive Queensland region with a GRP per Capita almost three times higher than the state average.

Across the north residents on average contribute 73% more than the state average.

The Our Fair Share principle reflects population and economic contributions and future capacity to encourage productive regions to invest, innovate, reach their full potential and improve their quality of life.  The Our Fair Share advocacy has been very successful over the past 17 years.  Forcing governments to recognise its importance in state budgets, proceeding governments to consider better expenditures in region's and helping multiple media platforms to analyse and comment on budgets over many years.

North Queensland is far more productive per capita than the south and its economy is growing at a much faster rate.  The south has a larger population which is growing faster than the north.  Our Fair Share recognise both these characteristics and seeks better state public investment and allocations to help improve local community’s.

NQ - Our Fair Share

Source Budget Papers 2024-25 *Outback SA4 (Charter Towers out to the Border minus South West)

Our Fair Share – Adj Professor Colin Dwyer

Most of North Queensland regions received their Population Fair share.  Only Far North was identified as underfunded in the capital outlays for 2024-25.

FNQ and Mackay/Isaac/Whitsundays both received less state public investment than their economic contribution.  CQ received slightly above its economic contribution and Townsville and the North West received 2.6% above their economic “Fair Share”.

Townsville Region received above population and economic fair shares in roads, public housing and energy funding.  Over half of the region's state public investment was in energy department followed by Transport and Main roads.  Together they represent 75% of state public investment in the Townsville Region.

Conclusion

"Regional businesses have been left out in the cold with this budget. Up here in the north, we're grappling with sky-high electricity bills, steep insurance premiums, and challenges in hiring and keeping staff, all while wages climb. This budget was a perfect opportunity for Brisbane's decision-makers to acknowledge our significant contributions and offer targeted relief, much like the public transport discounts for the southeast. Sadly, Northern businesses didn't get the expected support, and our families continue to receive less funding compared to those in Brisbane."  – Clayton COOK

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