BUDGET SETS SCENE FOR GST SHOWDOWN

BUDGET SETS SCENE FOR GST SHOWDOWN

EMBATTLED tourism and the ailing construction industries were the big winners in the LNP Government’s first State Budget.

But Queensland looks set to be on a political collision course with Canberra after announcing a hike in coal royalties in a bid to raise $1.6 billion and get the state back in the black within three years.

The decision could result in the Gillard Government cutting the state’s GST funding, if mining companies need to be refunded under the Federal Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT).

State Treasurer Tim Nicholls also confirmed 14,000 jobs would be cut from the public sector.

On the positive side, Nicholls unveiled $200 million in funding for state school maintenance over the next two years. Schools can apply for grants of up to $160,000 for repairs and upgrades, which should result in a new wave of work for local tradies.

As previously announced, the $7000 first-home owner grant for all homes was replaced with a $15,000 first-home owner grant solely for new homes.

“We want to see more Queenslanders own their own home and also provide a boost to the construction sector,” says the Treasurer.

Master Builders Queensland praised the Budget as a “great” way to kick-start the building industry, after what he describes to be an “appalling” 2011-12.

“We thought $15,000 grant was a good outcome. We think it could significantly increase new construction sales,” says housing policy director Paul Bidwell.

“The $200 million allocated for school maintenance means that some local builder will get the work. It was a good result on both counts.”

The Government will spend $20 million to implement a Tourism Investment Strategy focusing on a marketing campaign to attract tourists. More than $150 million has been allocated to the State’s tourism budget.

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee will have $20.9 million this year, with planning for the Games Village at Parklands earmarked as a priority.

Planning for the village is expected to be finished by the second quarter of next year, when tenders will be called.

Southport site will house 6500 athletes and officials during the Games and provide a residential community in close proximity to the new Gold Coast University Hospital and Griffith University.

Nicholls also promised $1 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade safety and flood resistance on the Bruce Highway.

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