The Queensland government says it will absorb all concession cuts to pensioners and seniors dished out by the federal government.
Queensland’s pensioners and seniors will be better off after the Newman government backflipped on concessions.
The federal government cut $223 million for water, electricity and rate concessions over four years, and the Tuesday state budget only picked up 10 per cent of the shortfall.
The grey army took the Newman government to task on talk-back radio and on Thursday Premier Campbell Newman announced he’ll now fund the full gap.
“We’re not only listening to Queenslanders, but we’re acting within the space of two days to reinstate the full level of pensioner and senior concessions,” he told parliament.
Government backbenchers Sean Choate and Neil Symes Tweeted that Mr Newman had “directed” the treasurer Tim Nicholls to come to the table, but Mr Choate has since said it was a poor choice of words.
Mr Nicholls said he was “absolutely not” overruled.
While the treasurer didn’t say when he changed his mind, he had listened to the Queensland Council of Social Services at a breakfast on Thursday morning.
“It is better for us to relieve pensioners and concession card holders of the worry,” Mr Nicholls said.
To pay for the shortfall, Queensland would consider withholding or recoup funding from commonwealth programs they ask states to contribute to.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the misstep won’t be quickly forgotten.
“The ink isn’t even dry on this budget and the premier has scrambled to save his own political skin,” she said.
“He made a choice in his budget where he could help Queensland pensioners or hurt them.
“He chose to hurt them.”
The opposition delivered its budget reply speech on Thursday.
Exactly how Labor would pay down Queensland’s $80 billion debt won’t be revealed until closer to next year’s election.
The Newman government has given voters an ultimatum – $33 billion worth of assets must be sold to fund new infrastructure and pay down debt.
Ms Palaszczuk says it is a political strategy tailored to create a slush fund to buy votes.
It would lead to higher charges and an “Americanised economy” of low wages and no job security, Ms Palaszczuk said.
Labor would hold onto assets and use their revenue to lower debt and invest in new infrastructure.
But a detailed strategy wasn’t released in Ms Palaszczuk’s budget reply speech on Thursday.
“We will be releasing a comprehensive plan ahead of the next state election to pay down the increase in general government debt under the Newman government,” she told parliament.