Media release: The Queensland budget is disappointing for our region

From TSBE’s perspective there was little to celebrate in yesterday’s budget for the Toowoomba and the Darling Downs region.  The shock announcement by the Queensland Government to increase the rate of royalty taxes on gas by 25% will have the potential to threaten jobs and investment.

Ali Davenport, TSBE CEO said, “This announcement will have the potential to impact future gas development in the Surat Region which is a concern.  There was no consultation with the industry and in fact two weeks ago, Premier Palaszczuk announced that there would be no increase to royalties.  Therefore yesterday’s budget announcement has come out of left field”.

The resources industry represents 13% of the Toowoomba economy which equates to $1.4billion and 6,871 full time jobs, according to the Queensland Resources Council in 2017-2018.  “Raising the royalties by 25% could mean future gas projects become unviable,” said Ms Davenport.

Ms Davenport gave an example of this highlighting the Arrow Energy’s Surat Gas Project which is in the final investment decision stage.   “The Queensland Government gave the approval for the lease for this project with great fanfare back in February 2019 and now, four months later and without consultation with the industry, the Government has decided to hike up the royalties.”

“This project is set to generate 1000 jobs in Dalby and create gas for the domestic market but this rate hike will potentially make the investment decision more difficult,” commented Ms Davenport. 

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane stated, “Queensland is the only state on the East Coast that is developing its gas resources.  This tax hike risks the gas supply for all Australians, not only for Queenslanders, given Queensland gas suppliers have been doing all the heavy lifting for the gas market.”

The Toowoomba region itself missed out on new major projects, with other announcements in the budgets mostly a rehash of projects that had already been announced or that are currently underway.

“We were hoping to see some major projects gain funding but they have not been seen as a priority for this State Government and only a few items on the Toowoomba Regional Council’s pre-budget wish-list have been honoured by the State Government,” said Ms Davenport.

It was hoped that the Mundubbera-Durong road upgrade to give B-Double access to the north of Toowoomba would be included as part of this budget.  The Federal Government has funded the bridge upgrade on the Mundubbera-Durong road and the State Government ideally should have funded the road section but unfortunately this was not included in the budget and therefore the agricultural industry in the North and South Burnett has only limited access to export opportunities from Toowoomba’s airport.  

There was no mention of funding the Bowenville - Moola and Dalby - Nungil road upgrades and these roads are of regional significance as they provide strategic industry access to seven cattle feedlots and four piggery operations. New investment in these key freight routes would have strengthened the economic growth of key industries in the Toowoomba and Western Downs Regions.