Virus’ full impact on Budget revealed
THE Queensland Budget will take a $4 billion hit from the COVID-19 crisis, as Treasury is tasked with finding massive savings to fill the yawning black hole.
To mark the date on which the Queensland Budget would have been delivered had there not been a global pandemic, Treasurer Jackie Trad has detailed the massive whack to the state's bottom line as revenues crumble and the Government shells out $4 billion on its health and business safety net.
Ms Trad said it was still too early to predict the size of the deficit, with both the revenue hit and the need to spend more figuring into the equation.
"There's no stabilised figure yet (on the hit to the Budget) but I do think it's going to be more than a $4 billion hit in revenue," she told The Courier-Mail.
The news follows predictions Queensland will be looking at a 10 per cent unemployment rate, with about 272,000 people out of work by June 30.
More figures are due out today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that will reflect devastating job losses in different sectors across the state, with about a quarter of all accommodation and food service jobs lost in the first weeks of the shutdown.
Ms Trad said Treasury officials were hunting across the whole of government for the significant savings that would be needed to fund business and worker support programs to help the economy survive, with already more than $500 million paid out in land and payroll tax concessions and business loans.
Those savings are expected to be in the billions, and will include $500 million clawed back from the public service pay freeze that will apply to every public servant across the state.
Ms Trad said that pay freeze would be among the largest savings, but department underspends would also be banked.
They will include underspends on consulting and travel that have added up as the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted business-as-usual.
But she said Treasury would be hunting for savings everywhere.
"We are working with every agency to make sure that we identify appropriate savings so we can assume that there will be savings identified in most agencies," she said.
"These are actually unprecedented times and we need to look at this in a very different way than what we traditionally have in the past.
"I think that Queenslanders understand that we need to put the economy and their jobs and their health number one here."
Ms Trad committed to presenting a Budget or a full set of financial accounts by the time Queenslanders vote in October, although that update is not expected before at least July.
"My commitment is that we will absolutely hand down either a Budget or a full set of financial accounts so that everyone can have a level playing field when it comes to election policy costings," she said.
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD
"But also, people have a right to know how we're spending their money and how we plan to protect the economy going forward, which is what we intend to do."
Ms Trad also revealed Treasury officials were working on modelling for how the economy recovery would play out under different scenarios.
"It's just economic modelling at this point but what would happen if we open up parts of our economy that have no cases of coronavirus?" she said.
"So if we have got a community like Townsville, for example, that hasn't got a case and hasn't had a case for three weeks, four weeks, I think the community would quite rightly start to expect that things could economically recalibrate.
"So how would we do that, and of course we would have to be led by the health advice."
Originally published as Virus' full impact on Budget revealed