I am honoured to deliver my first Annual Report as Under Treasurer for Queensland Treasury.
2019–20 was a year like no other in public administration in Queensland. Although our state is no stranger to the impacts of natural disasters and global phenomena, the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and Queensland’s social fabric was unprecedented.
As the necessary public health response began to impact on Queensland’s economy, our organisation responded immediately, playing a lead role in developing and implementing the government’s response and recovery agenda. Central to this agenda was the need to protect and support Queensland jobs and business, deliver vital infrastructure, and continue to provide essential frontline services for Queenslanders.
Queensland Treasury has been centrally involved in delivering Queensland’s Economic Recovery Strategy, Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs plan, which has included:
investing more than $7 billion in total towards COVID-19 support initiatives including measures for impacted businesses, workers, households, communities and the health sector
working with Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority to approve nearly $1 billion in Job Support loans to businesses state-wide
paying more than $458.3 million in payroll tax refunds and holidays directly into the bank accounts of Queensland businesses, as well as $545.3 million in payroll tax deferrals including annual returns
providing 25% rebates of land tax liability and more than $91 million in land tax relief to landowners.
Other measures to support Queensland businesses and individuals led by Queensland Treasury included:
changes to planning and licensing legislation to allow businesses to operate more effectively during COVID-19
temporary suspension of enforcement actions for people with penalty debt.
A range of economic indicators have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, including employment, household consumption, trade, dwelling investment, and Queensland’s share of GST revenue. The state’s tourism industry was significantly impacted, as flight cancellations, domestic travel restrictions and social distancing flowed into Queensland’s normally thriving hotels and resorts, tours and theme parks. With ongoing volatility in the economy, producing reliable economic forecasts for Queensland’s Budget has been extremely challenging. Treasury has focused on preparing a COVID-19 Fiscal and Economic Review, which will reveal the impact COVID-19 has had on Queensland.
In the coming months we will continue our work with all government agencies to identify $3 billion in savings to support economic recovery and we will implement the government’s Queensland Future Fund to maximise the return on government-owned assets.
Partnerships with agencies, stakeholders and other bodies are key to our success as a treasury. Our networks were further enhanced in May 2020, when we welcomed the planning and economic and infrastructure strategy functions of the former Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning. This strengthened our respective fields of expertise, and positioned a strengthened Treasury to lead the Queensland Government’s economic response to COVID-19.
Despite the significant negative impacts brought by COVID-19, there is reason for optimism. Queensland’s relative success in containing COVID-19 allows us to confidently forecast a recovery in economic output in 2021. Still, the need for vigilance will remain for some time to come.
That we were able to respond so effectively during this challenging year can be attributed in large part to the agility, resilience and talent of our workforce, whom I commend to government. We will draw heavily on these qualities over the coming year, as we maintain our commitment to ‘unite and recover for Queensland jobs’.