By Denis Bright
Leadership change in Queensland has occurred with lightning speed after the unexpected announcement by Anastacia Palaszczuk that it was time for her to leave the leadership stage.
As Premier of Queensland since 2015, Premier Palaszczuk presided over the transition from a one term para-military LNP state government, restored collegiate conventions in policy decision-making and effectively managed the COVID-19 crisis. Perhaps the greatest policy gift of the Palaszczuk Government was the increases in royalties for coal, gas and mineral exports which were delivered last financial year when export prices were at a temporarily optimum level.
This recent era of windfall increases in receipts from royalty payments has now ended. Export prices have stabilized. Queenslanders must accept the realities of sustainable energy transitions and their financial costs in projections from the state budget papers.
This is also a transitional period for the wider Australian economy. Projections from Trading Economics for Australian Private Capital Expenditure carries implications for future private sector investment which largely determines the fate of Australian living standards:
Attempts to isolate China’s potential contribution to global investment are a big negative for the global economy and for the countries of our region, in particular. Due to security concerns, Australia’s foreign investment is being diverted back to the US and Britain until alternative investment ties with the QUAD countries of India, Japan, Australia and the US are fully consolidated. Higher interest rate regimes in these QUAD countries place pressure on the Australian dollar which maintains our own higher interest rate regime. Trading Economics notes the favourable trends in Chinese interest rates during the past decade.
As in every household in these challenging times, the incoming leadership team will review all discretionary spending. Meg Bolton and Gemma Ferguson of ABC News (9 December 2023) covered the constant grind of cost-of-living pressures on both family households and small businesses.
The cost-of-living problems also extend to sustainable strategies for the delivery of government services at all levels. The Mid-Year Financial Outlook (MYOFO) will be released on New Year’s Eve by federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers with its implications for financial management in Queensland. Almost half the revenue for the Queensland Government is derived from federal grants and GST revenue. Federal commitments to Stage 3 Tax Cuts need modifications to offer legitimate tax reform while asking comfortably off families to pay their fair share of progressive taxation regimes.
The Queensland Government has anticipated the local, national and global trendlines. Every household has benefited from cost-of-living relief made possible by the temporary revenues from increased coal and gas royalties in the previous financial year.
Using the resources of QBuild and commercial associations with housing development firms like Nileport, the Queensland Government has taken big initiatives in social housing.
The extent of social housing interventions has been explained by (Q Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlan 21 June 2023):
- Record commitment of $5 billion for social and affordable housing, the largest concentrated investment in Queensland’s history, to help deliver 13,500 homes.
- In Redbank Plains, the Palaszczuk Government has contracted Queensland-based Nileport Projects to build a $5.8 million complex of eighteen one-bedroom apartments, including two fully accessible homes suitable for wheelchair users.
- A complex of five one-bedroom apartments at Booval in Ipswich is expected to be completed in December 2023.
In sections of adjacent Riverview former public sector detached houses are fetching rentals of $400 per week through private rental agencies. Here, streetscapes have deteriorated through generations of neglect for public housing in a riverside suburb on the boundaries between the federal electorates of Blair and Ryan Innovative housing styles are revitalizing styles of living are transforming old suburbs.
Co-investment between government and commercial providers in infrastructure and community development is helping to spread the outreach of key sectors of government. More conventional financial partnerships may have avoided the recent controversies with the Brisbane City Council and sporting associations over the funding of a redeveloped RNA Showground Stadium. This precinct is a prime location for more all-round use as a convention centre and housing venue near a proposed Cross-River Rail Station that will also serve the Royal Hospital. Redevelopment of the RNA stadium might have been strategically merged with other projects in housing and community development for this important inner-city precinct.
Queensland’s commitment to social housing and to the revitalization of disadvantaged suburbs brings out the positives in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), co-investment and the future roles for the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) in mobilizing alternative ways and means for the delivery of quite essential outcomes. Many projects would not be completed in the near future if they were totally reliant on direct government funding.
Inner-city precincts at Woolloongabba, Roma Street and Fortitude Valley are being transformed by innovative inner-city planning strategies delivered through PPP initiatives. Extending these Transport Oriented Developments (TODs) to Outer Metro Areas like Springfield, Beenleigh and Ipswich will always attract much longer-term policy commitments to reshape Metro Skylines by 2050 if Queensland retains its discerning style of political leadership.
In Fortitude Valley, investment by LaSalle Investment Management has restored this inner-city station precinct. The Woolworth’s Metro store has added to the attractive power of the refurbished complex which attracts 24,000 commuters and shoppers each day. There are at least thirty retailers close to a vibrant food court. La Salle claims to have invested $500 million in the refurbishment of both the Valley Metro and adjacent Transport House.
A continued black spot in this redevelopment is the continued presence of the Walkway Complex across Wickham Street with its disused escalators to street level from a side exit from the Valley Metro.
Housing affordability is a real asset for the McWhirters complex. Good local government planning with support from the state government might help to extend this refurbishment of a vital inner city with advantages for the delivery of affordable housing.
Realestate.com.au notes that the median rent in Fortitude Valley is $550 per week for a one-bedroom unit. Two-bedroom units have a median price of $635. The latter involves a shared housing cost of $160 per week which is very affordable for inner-city Brisbane.
Spreading the Christmas cheer into 2024 is an imperative for all from the corridors of power to homeless residents on the streets and in tents around parks and riverbanks.
These times justify more public advertising to explain the processes of government at all levels. The alternative is to allow family dynasties in control of mainstream media networks to turn future elections into populist auctions as in 2012-3 when Labor lost control of every level of government affecting Queenslanders. Premier Campbell Newman expected a better funding deal for Cross-River Rail from the Abbott Government but received nothing in the end. This essential project became a big financial burden on the Palaszczuk Government.
So, let’s join the hostesses to make the Christmas cheer last longer as new leaders take over in Queensland with a freshly tuned media messages to explain our complex emergent social realities.
Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.
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