Once upon a time, the Queensland Government tried to attract people from interstate by cutting taxes and charges. For instance, Sir Joh famously abolished death duties in the seventies. But times have changed. Now we have a cash-strapped state government planning to charge interstate migrants for moving to Queensland, as the Brisbane Times reports:
Southerners crossing the border for a new life in Queensland will have to pay for the privilege, with a new charge expected to raise $17 million.
Treasurer Cameron Dick will announce a new driver’s licence transfer fee of $78.75 in next week’s budget, aimed at people who move to Queensland from interstate.
What a terrible way to welcome new Queenslanders, and one which doesn’t raise a lot of revenue in the greater scheme of things. It appears the Government needs to do everything it can to compensate for its obvious inability to keep its public service expenses under control, so this sort of thing is to be expected, alas.
One other thing raised my eyebrows in the Brisbane Times report. Treasurer Cameron Dick is quoted as saying:
“We think it’s only fair for them to pay a small price for the privilege of becoming new Queenslanders, where of course they will pay less tax than anywhere else in Australia, particularly NSW.”
But, if the Treasurer looked at his own state budget papers (e.g. last year’s Budget Paper 2, p. 84), he’d see that Queensland doesn’t have the lowest state taxes and charges in Australia. Queensland state taxes and charges per capita are lower than the national average, for sure, but they are higher than in SA, Tasmania, and the NT. Queensland once had the lowest taxes and charges among the states, but that hasn’t been the case for over a decade now. For my take on Queensland’s public finances since the era of Sir Joh and Sir Leo Hielscher, check out my 2018 book Beautiful One Day, Broke the Next.
Source: Queensland Budget Paper 2, 2020-21, p. 85.
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Rearranging the deck chairs on that famous ship springs to mind, but that’s too generous! It’s more like fussing about the paper drinks coasters on the little tables between them.