Miners in north Queensland will be given millions of dollars in discounts on freight charges in next week’s budget in a win for the state’s resources industry.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad announced the $80 million scheme in Townsville on Sunday, saying the plan will boost mineral exports from the state’s northwest.
She said the state Labor government had also promised $30 million for construction of a new freight terminal at the Townsville port, with another $18 million to come from the Port of Townsville.
It comes after a $350 million commitment to upgrade the Mount Isa rail line over the next five years.
The line connects industries and communities in some of the most far-flung corners of the state, and underwent extensive repairs after 300km of track was damaged or washed away by floodwaters in February.
About 75 per cent of the Queensland’s base metal and mineral deposits are located in the state’s north west, making up some of the $44.5 billion in coal and minerals exported in the year to April 2019.
“The commitment underlines our commitment to backing regional communities and regional jobs,” Ms Trad said.
Ms Trad says government investment plays a major role in stimulating regional economies, and plans to keep spending to create jobs rather than cutting back to address soaring debt.
A bulk of the spending in Tuesday’s budget will be done in the bush.
While the government chooses to stay the course on its investments, it must also balance a massive cut to its share of the GST, recovery costs for a string of natural disasters and billions of dollars in promises.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Sunday said the government would spend $929 million more on health in the next year, bringing the overall health budget to $19.2 billion.
Some of that money will be used to hire hundreds more nurses, doctors and ambulance officers, along with major redevelopments at the Caboolture, Logan and Ispwich hospitals.