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Public service targeted in $3 billion savings plan

A big spending Queensland budget has also featured belt tightening, with a task force set to target the public service in a $3 billion savings plan.

Jun 12, 2024, updated Jun 12, 2024
Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick hands down the 2024-25 Queensland State Budget at Parliament house in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick hands down the 2024-25 Queensland State Budget at Parliament house in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Treasurer Cameron Dick handed down a big spending budget on Tuesday to provide Queenslanders cost-of-living relief ahead of October’s state election.

The Labor government offered $3.8 billion in concessions as it looked to secure a fourth straight term, ensuring a $2.6 billion deficit for the 2024-25 budget.

However there was some belt tightening with Dick revealing a task force will target the state’s growing public service ranks.

The taskforce will execute a plan to save $3 billion over four years and get the budget back in surplus from 2026/27.

The “Smarter Spending, Better Jobs” plan will look at reducing government travel, advertising and accommodation expenditure.

The use of external consultants, contractors and labour hire will also be targeted.

Dick insisted there would be no public sector job losses.

Budget papers indicated an 8000-strong boost to the state’s public service over the next year, blowing out the workforce total to 267,000 people.

“When we deliver the savings not one public servant will lose their jobs,” Dick said.

“There’s simply no need for us to cut, to sack or to sell.”

The government spends about $900 billion per year with about 80 per cent of that in wages and superannuation.

“We spend at least $500 million a year on leasing offices, spend $3 billion in payments to contractors and consultants so these are areas where we will ask agencies to find a responsible level of savings,” Dick said.

The Liberal National Party opposition are set to provide its official budget response on Thursday.

Shadow Treasurer David Janetzki on Tuesday said their plan would ensure public servants felt “empowered” after becoming devalued under Labor’s nine year reign.

The LNP had initially outlined their plan to rebuild the public service back in November.

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It cited an independent commission which would sever the link between the premier’s department and the Public Sector Governance Council.

“We’ve talked about the reliance on consultants and contractors,” Janetzki said.

“We’ve got an Auditor-General report recently released that showed that there had been $1 billion more spent on consultants and contractors in the last year than what there was simply five years ago.

“We want to empower our public service to deliver the services, more services, better services.”

The 2024-25 deficit snapped Dick’s run of three straight budget surpluses.

A raft of measures to help Queenslanders make ends meet – and boost the government’s election chances – featured in Tuesday’s budget.

It included a freeze on government fees and charges, $1000 off household energy bills, 20 per cent off car registration and 50-cent public transport for six months.

The government unveiled $3.8 billion in new cost-of-living relief, taking total concessions to $11.2 billion.

Overall $91 billion government spending for 2024-25 was also set to ease pressure on health, housing and infrastructure after a record population surge.

A budget deficit of $515 million has already been forecast for 2025-26.

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