COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Queensland’s economy. Many Queenslanders have faced job and financial insecurity while confronting an urgent threat to our health and wellbeing.
The Queensland Government tabled its 2020-21 budget on 1 December 2020, incorporating $4.3 billion in election commitments. Despite facing a unique borrowing environment, the Palaszczuk Government has failed to make game changing structural investments in public housing and social services that would allow Queensland to build back better with new investments in our social infrastructure.
It is disappointing that this budget seeks to maintain the status quo.
The 2020-21 budget contains some support for Queenslanders’ financial wellbeing, for example, by funding an increase in support workers to improve access to the No Interest Loan Scheme. However, it misses important opportunities to benefit vulnerable Queenslanders as additional funding to community services appears to be as minimal as 0.8 per cent of the total $4.3 billion.
The budget offers few surprises and maintains funding for previous, ongoing commitments. A large proportion of these prior commitments relate to the COVID-19 recovery response, such as household utility bill relief ($400 million), housing and homelessness support ($25 million), support for community-based health treatment and services ($28 million), and domestic and family violence support ($5.5 million).
This budget has a strong focus on backing frontline services. We welcome the significant investment in education. However, the budget fails to recognise the community sector as a frontline service provider.
There is no better description for the community sector than frontline.