Small target, big deal: LNP leader pledges to scrap contentious hydro scheme

Accused of adopting a small target strategy, Queensland Opposition leader David Crisafulli has gone big on housing in a major pre-election pitch.

Jun 13, 2024, updated Jun 13, 2024
Leader of the Opposition David Crisafulli, in Queensland Parliament. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Leader of the Opposition David Crisafulli, in Queensland Parliament. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The Liberal National Party leader also looked at small business and scrapping a controversial energy project in his state budget reply on Thursday.

Crisafulli had been accused of trying to be a small target ahead of the October election with few policies, even copping criticism from former LNP premier Campbell Newman.

But he stepped up on Thursday with a pre-election pitch, promising to scrap the controversial Pioneer Burdekin Pumped Hydro scheme despite $1 billion in equity and $38.5 million being funded in the state government’s budget.

“It is not feasible. It will never be built. The government knows it,” Crisafulli said.

Instead, an LNP government would provide smaller, more manageable pumped hydro projects.

Crisafulli’s pitch to be premier also focussed on boosting home ownership in reply to a state budget that featured cost of living relief.

“This October, Queenslanders will have a clear choice,” he told parliament.

“It is a choice between a fresh, united LNP with detailed plans to address the major issues or a tired, decade-old government with no new ideas.”

The LNP will ditch stamp duty for first homebuyers who build their own house, saving more than $20,000.

“We’re not just reducing the tax for first home buyers chasing the great Australian dream, we’re scrapping it,” Crisafulli said.

He stood by the Labor budget’s increased stamp duty threshold up to $700,000, benefiting 10,000 Queenslanders.

Crisafulli also unveiled a shared equity scheme to help potential homebuyers with at least a two per cent deposit on a $750,000 property to close the gap on the purchase.

It would be available on a trial basis for 1000 Queenslanders, where the government would offer 30 per cent equity on new builds and 25 per cent on existing dwellings.

The LNP expected it to cost around $165 million.

A similar policy is in place in NSW and Victoria while the federal government is also working to legislate a help-to-buy scheme.

First home owners would also have any restrictions on renting their property removed under the LNP.

The opposition will take Labor’s major house-building policy further by promising one million homes, including 53,500 social homes, by 2044 instead of 2046.

Mr Crisafulli said his government would work with faith-based and charity organisations to let them build social housing on surplus land.

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An initial review by the Brisbane Catholic Archdiocese and the Salvation Army showed surplus land could accommodate 2000 homes, he said.

It is estimated changing planning laws will deliver 10,000 more social homes.

Small businesses are also set to benefit under the LNP.

It plans to provide simplified, direct government tenders to small businesses instead of them being subcontracted by a larger company.

The opposition would issue short-term contracts, up to $1 million, to businesses that have new, proven to work ideas that would improve government services.

There are also $5000 grants up for grabs for women disconnected from employment due to care responsibilities or chronic illness.

The state budget reply marked the first major pre-election pitch by Crisafulli.

He had previously outlined plans to tackle youth crime by removing detention as a last resort and reporting real-time health data for transparency.

Crisafulli had been criticised for accepting Labor government budget measures sight unseen.

But his reply speech revealed not all funding would be backed like the pumped hydro scheme.

Deputy Premier Cameron Dick questioned what else Crisafulli would cut if elected.

“David Crisafulli has sought to make himself the smallest target in Australian political history,” he said.

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