Budget snapshot: What’s in it for the Southern Downs?

Queensland's latest budget will deliver millions in funding for several Southern Downs projects. Pictures: FILE

By Jeremy Cook

An information hub at Girraween and millions in funding for work on two major Warwick infrastructure projects were included for the Southern Downs in the latest Queensland budget.

The Queensland government committed approximately $5 million over the next financial year, out of $7.9 million in total, to build an information hub at Girraween National Park, Tuesday’s budget revealed.

A combined $66 million will also be spent on continuing upgrades to the Warwick police station and construction of the 109 kilometre-long Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline.

A Cross Border Commissioner will also be established to improve collaboration with the New South Wales government on issues impacting border communities, under a three-year $3.3 million funding splash.

Across Queensland, an additional $3.7 billion in cost of living relief will also be handed out, plunging the state into what Treasurer Cameron Dick described as a “deliberate” deficit “to help Queensland households keep their budgets in balance”.

The first home buyers grant will also be temporarily doubled to $30,000 until June 2025, while $3.1 billion will be put towards delivering one million additional homes, including 53,500 social homes, under the Homes for Queenslanders plan.

“Delivering a deficit, spending more than the government collects in revenue, is not, and should never be an easy choice,” Mr Dick said.

For Southern Downs residents, it means $1300 in electricity bill support will be available through an upfront $1,000 state government cost of living rebate plus a $300 federal rebate paid to households in quarterly instalments.

Vehicle registrations will also be cut by 20 per cent over the next 12 months, costing the budget $435 million, while Translink public transport fares will be limited to 50 cents statewide for six months from 5 August.

“Cost of living is my number one priority because it is Queenslanders’ number one priority,” Premier Steven Miles said.

Speaking after its release, Southern Downs MP James Lister said the government’s big-spending pre-election budget would be “more talk” if it failed to build more homes.

“We are suffering a diabolical housing crisis in Southern Downs,” he said.

Mr Lister criticised the government’s $2 billion Housing Investment Fund for not delivering newly-built homes in the three years since its inception. The fund has however moved about 600 Queenslanders into existing dwellings.

“You do not house net more people by simply purchasing a property and converting it into housing for government purposes,” he told parliament.

“You make no dent whatsoever in the housing crisis by doing that.”

Mr Lister also attacked limited funding commitments for his electorate’s “neglected” roads and questioned why payments under the patient transport subsidy scheme hadn’t increased.

For the Darling Downs, budget funding also included $1.5 billion for the Darling Downs and South West Hospital and Health Services, $71 million for school maintenance and improvement upgrades and $1.9 billion to deliver capital works and “productivity-enhancing infrastructure” as part of the state government’s Big Build program.

In an unprecedented move, Queensland LNP leader David Crisafulli last week committed his party’s support to everything in the Labor government’s budget ahead of its release.

With an election looming for later this year, Shadow Treasurer David Janetzki said Tuesday’s budget was one “for the next four months”.