The Palaszczuk Labor Government delivered the Queensland 2015 budget on Tuesday, with a key focus on jobs, health and education.
The State Budget also allocates significant funding for key sectors across the natural resources and mines portfolio, including a $29.7 million investment to support drought-affected landholders, protect water resources, and underpin the sustainable management and use of Queensland’s natural resources.
“The agriculture and resource sectors are vitally important to the state economy for the jobs, regional growth and significant economic benefits they deliver for all Queenslanders,” said Minister for State Development and Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham.
“This budget provides funding to support these sectors in challenging times and to ensure the ongoing sustainable management and use of our land, water and mining resources. The first Palaszczuk Government Budget will deliver better online services, boost coal seam gas compliance and manage public safety risks associated with abandoned mines.”
The new budget will provide $4.1 million in rent deferrals, rebates and fee waivers to help ease the financial burden on drought-affected leaseholders and water users, $8 million to support stage 4 of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative in Queensland, and $6.2 million for the Abandoned Mines Land Program to manage the public safety risks associated with abandoned mine sites across Queensland.
Additionally, it will provide $3.6 million to fund compliance activities by the Coal Seam Gas Compliance Unit – including investigation of landholder concerns about the impact of CSG operations, and $13.7 million to modernise and enhance departmental online services to deliver faster service outcomes and make it easier for people to do business with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.
Dr Lynham said the $4.1 million in drought relief measures were part of a broader four-year $52.1 million whole-of-government Drought Assistance Package.
“About 80% of Queensland is currently drought-declared and landholders and businesses alike are doing it very tough,” he said.
According to him, in order to help ease the financial hardship on landholders in drought-declared communities,the Government will also:
- defer all rural rent payments for more than 7,800 Category 11 primary production and grazing leases (with no penalty interest accrued) in drought-declared areas until 30 June 2016;
- provide a 12% rent rebate to all Category 11 tenures in drought-declared areas, returning a total $3.2 million in rent to more than 4,660 leaseholders at an average $686 per rebate depending on property size, location and annual rent paid;
- waive the $74 annual water licence fee for drought-declared properties in 2015-16, saving approximately 11,000 water licence holders a collective $814,000 in fees;
- waive the $117.50 water licence application fee for new applications seeking licences to take water for stock and domestic purposes until 30 June 2016.