Queensland's finances are in slightly better shape than previously forecast, with the deficit for last financial year recovering by $164 million in just two-and-a-half months.

As a tight-lipped Treasurer Cameron Dick yesterday refused to detail anything in today's long-awaited Budget, the Queensland Government's Report on State Finances revealed a $5.734 billion operating deficit for 2019-20, improved thanks to the government spending less than it had anticipated.

The document, tabled without fanfare in state parliament, shows general government sector expenses for 2019-20 totalled $63.498 million - $119 million lower than expected in the COVID-19 Fiscal and Economic Review in September, although the $25.66 public service wages bill was not reduced.

The amount was still $3.734 billion higher than the 2019-20 MYFER estimate in December, made before the COVID pandemic hit when a surplus of $151 million was projected.

 

Treasurer Cameron Dick will deliver the state’s long-awaited Budget. Picture: News Corp/Attila Csaszar
Treasurer Cameron Dick will deliver the state’s long-awaited Budget. Picture: News Corp/Attila Csaszar

 

Mr Dick confirmed forecast figures had "changed significantly" since the government handed down its two-year forecast document in September.

But he wouldn't be drawn on how that had impacted the debt figure - set to hit $101.9 billion in 2020-21 - and forecast unemployment, which had been set to reach 8.5 per cent in 2020-21.

"There's been a significant improvement in employment in Queensland and in employment growth," he said.

"Of course we've created 1000 jobs a day for the past two months in September and October and that's been very positive so I think that gives you an insight into how the forecasts are shifting."

 

 

He said the Queensland economy had "sustained a very significant injury" and it would take years to recover, "but we are making very positive progress".

Mr Dick would not repeat his early suggestion that Queensland would be out of recession by next year.

But he dismissed Opposition allegations he had broken a promise by borrowing more than the $4 billion to fund Labor's election commitments.

He said he had been open about the fact he would need to borrow "substantially more" to fund years of deficits.

Asked whether there would be an extension of tax support for businesses struggling through the downturn, he said all details on tax incentives and tax support would also be released today.

"But there will be some positive economic data that will demonstrate the impact of the stimulus and the measures that we've taken to support Queensland business that shows we're headed in the right direction," he said.

Mr Dick said the four-year infrastructure program would be the largest in Queensland's history for more than a decade.

Originally published as Treasurer reveals improvement ahead of Budget


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