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Qld Budget 2017: Six billion dollar push for 22,000 jobs

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt, watched by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Brisbane, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Mr Pitt will hand down the 2017-18 budget for the state, his third.
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt, watched by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Brisbane, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Mr Pitt will hand down the 2017-18 budget for the state, his third. AAP Image - Dan Peled

SIX billion dollars will be spent to upgrade regional infrastructure in a bid to fund 22,000 jobs in Queensland's struggling areas.

But Treasurer Curtis Pitt denied the money was pork-barrelling in Labor-held seats designed to stave off the LNP and One Nation.

Mr Pitt on Tuesday handed down the 2017 Queensland Budget, promising to spend $10.17 on capital works statewide in 2017-18.

That figure will grow to $42.75 billion over the next four years.

Budget documents show $6.6 billion will be spent outside Brisbane, Logan and the Gold Coast in the coming financial year, compared to $7.4 billion for regional projects in 2016.

Mr Pitt said the government infrastructure and employment programs would support about 40,000 jobs in the coming financial year, more than half of which will be in regional areas.

"Positive signs are emerging in several areas in regional Queensland," he told parliament.

"But there is no question that more needs to be done to lift employment opportunities in some areas of Queensland."

But he denied the money was pork barrelling in marginal seats in the lead up to the next election.

"We have a number of big projects happening throughout parts of far north Queensland, north Queensland, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton. Are there local Labor members of parliament there? Absolutely," he said.

"These are the centres, the main convention centres in Queensland that require the sort of funding arrangements that we're putting in place in the budget."

The government's Back to Work program will be expanded into the south-east corner to target unemployment in outer-urban areas like Ipswich and regional centres including Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre), Treasurer Curtis Pitt (right) and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad walk to a press conference at Parliament House in Brisbane, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Mr Pitt will hand down the 2017-18 budget for the state, his third.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre), Treasurer Curtis Pitt (right) and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad walk to a press conference at Parliament House in Brisbane, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Mr Pitt will hand down the 2017-18 budget for the state, his third. AAP Image - Dan Peled
The Back to Work program was announced in 2016 as a two-year program to target unemployment in regional areas but regional parts of the south-east were not covered.

Employment minister Grace Grace said the program's success in regional areas prompted its expansion.

"Regional employers are embracing the Back to Work program in ever increasing numbers, with the program already supporting over 4300 jobs in the regions," she said.

"We think the program can work just as well in the south-east, where it will be specifically targeted at those who've been out of work for 52 weeks or more and young jobseekers aged 15-24 years."

The Works for Queensland funding program for council infrastructure will also receive a $200 million funding boost. Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the project would fund needed local projects.

"This initiative is designed to get local people into local jobs, boosting the regional economy immediately where it is needed the most," she said. 

Topics:  editors picks employment infrastructure jobs queensland budget 2017

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