The Queensland government will spend $360 million on programs it hopes will create jobs after increased coal royalties improved the budget bottom line forecast by more than $1 billion.
Treasurer Curtis Pitt on Tuesday delivered a mid-year budget review that predicted the 2016/17 financial year would see Queensland record its highest surplus in a decade – $2.02 billion.
That figure was more than double the $867 million surplus predicted in the June budget.
“The sound financial management we brought to the table is no accident,” Mr Pitt said.
Most of the increase comes courtesy of the resources sector, with the government expecting to rake in $2.9 billion in coal royalties rather than the $1.5 billion predicted six months ago.
Mr Pitt said the coal price rebound would not be taken for granted.
General government debt was expected to be $36.02 billion, down from the previously-forecast $37.8 billion.
Labor plans to spend $360 million on creating jobs in the hope of improving the unemployment rates in struggling areas, including $20 million supporting Queensland manufacturing through grants.
The review predicted a 6.25 per cent unemployment rate for the year and economic growth rate of four per cent – both unchanged since June.
The anticipated surplus represents another early Christmas present for Mr Pitt after a separate report this month revealed the state’s net operating surplus for the 2015/16 financial year was $818 million higher than expected.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the results highlighted the importance of the resources industry.
“We look forward to the opportunity as an industry of contributing even more in the coming years,” he said.
“The amount announced today would have been even higher were it not for the activism, delay and red tape that’s been imposed on the industry in the last few years.”
The government has not included the $22 billion Adani coal mine, recently granted final approvals, in any of its estimates.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls underlined a cut to infrastructure spending and a halving of the predicted employment growth rate to 0.75 per cent.
“That means 18,000 fewer jobs for Queenslanders,” Mr Nicholls said.
“What an admission of failure.”
But Mr Nicholls also accused the government of relying on good luck rather than good management.
“It’s all predicated and based on a coal royalty bubble that the treasurer himself has indicated is going to burst,” he said.
“Debt continues to increase to more than $77 billion despite all the raids, accounting trickery and sleights of hand that have gone on.”