QLD budget released, reforms still sought

Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt upheld the government’s commitment not to increase royalties in yesterday’s state budget.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) called on the government not to raise royalties last year, given the billions in royalty payments made to support government services.

The QRC welcomed Pitt’s recommitment to a review of financial assurance, which was previously given in November 2015 by premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. The council also sought to make land court reform a top priority, welcoming the additional resources it was given in this budget.

QRC chief executive Michael Roche said it is still important to move from reviews to action on reforms, adding, “Encouragingly, the treasurer has written to me…to say that, while the budget contains no royalty relief, he is prepared to maintain the dialogue with QRC on some modest reform proposals.”

Pitt also agreed to partner with QRC on their Jails to Jobs program, providing $1.3 million to transition 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders from prison into employment in the resources sector.

Roche went on to express his concern over the budget neglecting exploration initiatives.

“Of concern is that the budget seems to ignore the importance of encouragement for exploration and discovery of new minerals and energy deposits,” he said.

“For the first time in at least four governments, the budget contains no specific program funding for pre-competitive geo-science programs through the Geological Survey of Queensland (GSQ). With exploration in Queensland languishing, this decision to slash funding to GSQ by half is hard to fathom.”

In contrast, the WA state budget announced $30 million in funding between 2017 – 2020 for the Exploration Incentive Scheme to encourage exploration in the state. The Federal Budget also encouraged exploration, providing $100 million to Geoscience Australia for the National Resources Development Strategy – Exploring for the Future programme, designed to map mineral, energy, and groundwater potential in northern Australia and South Australia.

An estimated $9 billion in royalties from the resources sector is expected to be banked by the QLD treasury in the next four years.

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