Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls says there will be no tax hikes or reduced services in Tuesday’s state budget.
Asset sales are the worst kept secret in Queensland, but Treasurer Tim Nicholls still didn’t let it slip on the eve of the budget.
Cabinet on Monday decided not to inflict more pain on Queenslanders, despite the 2014/15 projected deficit quadrupling to $2.27 billion.
“There will be no cuts to services, nor will there be any new taxes, fees or charges,” Mr Nicholls said.
“As a result of the hard work we have done over the past two years we are able to continue to deliver services without having to increase fees, taxes or charges, in contrast to some recent budgets at the federal and state level.”
The Newman government is threatening to offload $32 billion of assets if it is re-elected in 2015.
Two electricity generators and ports could be up for grabs, as well as equity stakes in distributors Ergon and Energex.
The Newman government may face an uphill battle to win over the public and its vast majority is expected to be slashed.
The majority of 40,000 Queenslanders who responded to the government’s Strong Choices survey preferred increased mining and gaming taxes over asset sales.
In a last ditch bid to change cabinet’s mind, 100 unionists rallied outside the government’s executive building in Brisbane on Monday morning.
Ministers didn’t hold the usual doorstops before their weekly meeting and slipped through the back door to avoid the unions’ wrath.
The lone MP who ran the gauntlet, Local Government Minister David Crisafulli, struggled to be heard over union chanting and heckling.
“We’ve got a big debt issue that we’ve got to deal with, and I wish only yelling and screaming could fix it,” he said.
Premier Campbell Newman on Sunday indicated big-ticket spending, namely the $5 billion Brisbane underground bus and train tunnel, could only go ahead if drastic budget action was taken.
Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the Newman government is holding an asset sales loaded gun to the heads of Queenslanders.
“They say the only choice is to do this,” he said.
“They know they are going to be bringing down only what can be described as a horror budget.”
While the Queensland government won’t be issuing any cuts, the budget paper is expected to show the full cost of federal reductions.
The Commonwealth cancelled $50 million paid to states to help supply pensioner concessions for water, transport and electricity.
“Unfortunately there will be some decisions that will have to be made where we have not been able to absorb all of the changes that have been made at the federal level,” Mr Nicholls said.