With Labor now confirmed as being returned to government in Queensland, our experts look at what this election result means for the key areas of planning, property, construction and infrastructure, and workplace relations and safety.

Key ministerial changes

  • It has been announced that Jackie Trad will take over the role of Queensland Treasurer
  • Former environment minister Steven Miles becomes health minster
  • Former health minister Cameron Dick becomes state development and infrastructure minister
  • Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk adds the trade portfolio to her responsibilities.

For the official announcement on the new cabinet and full list of ministers and portfolios, please click here.

Key policy initiatives: Construction & Infrastructure

The Palaszczuk Government has announced several policies which will impact the construction industry in Queensland over the government’s next term.

Cross River Rail

On 13 June 2017, the ALP government announced that it would fully fund the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project with early construction work starting this year.

The project is significant in scale. It involves the construction of a 10.2 kilometre rail line in inner city Brisbane including 5.9 kilometres of tunnel under the Brisbane River and the CBD.

The project’s proposed route is connected with the Brisbane local government’s major infrastructure initiative; the Brisbane Metro project. Together, the two projects would represent a major upgrade in Brisbane’s public transport infrastructure.

The ALP victory means that Cross River Rail is now almost certain to move forward in this term of Government.

Reforms to security of payment legislation

Just prior to calling the election the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (Act) was passed in parliament (which we reported on here and here). Although ultimately obtaining bi-partisan support, the Act was the culmination of a large-scale review of security of payment laws initiated early in the ALP’s first term of government and the LNP indicated that it would likely take a different approach to rolling out certain features of the Act after the election.

The Act introduces measures aimed at improving security of payment for subcontractors effected by insolvencies in the industry. One of the key features of the Act is the introduction of project bank accounts (PBAs) for government projects of a certain value in January 2018 and then more broadly across private sector projects in January 2019.

PBAs will change the way that payments are made on projects by requiring head contractors to establish and administer PBAs for the processing of subcontractor payments. Payments under a head contract will no longer be made directly to the head contractor but will be made into a PBA from which the money will then be distributed directly to subcontractors in accordance with their certified claims.

Given the ALP’s success, it is now very likely that PBAs will be rolled out industry wide from 2019 on all private sector projects valued at greater than $1 million subject to certain exceptions depending on the type of work being undertaken under the head contract.

Key policy initiatives: Planning, Environment & Property

Vegetation clearing laws

The Palaszczuk Government introduced a Bill in March 2016 to reinstate laws relating to vegetation management and vegetation clearing. The LNP and crossbench MP’s voted against the Bill and it was defeated in August 2016.

The Government proposes to re-introduce vegetation management and vegetation clearing laws in the new term, although we await to hear whether the proposed laws will be in the same terms as the Bill introduced in March 2016.

New taxes to fund election promises

On 23 November 2017, the then-Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt announced the introduction of four new or increased taxes to help pay for the Palaszczuk Government’s election commitments.

The four new or increased taxes include:

  1. An increase in the rate of land tax payable on properties worth above $10m
  2. An increase in the transfer duty surcharge for foreign buyers from 3% to 7% (the same rate payable in Victoria)
  3. An increase in transfer duty payable for new cars worth more than $100,000
  4. A new “Point of Consumption” Tax on the net wagering revenue of bookmakers licensed in the Northern Territory that accept bets in Queensland.

Increase in the rate of land tax payable

The Government has proposed an increase in the rate of land tax payable on properties worth above $10m.

Land tax is assessed on the total value of all “taxable land” owned by a taxpayer. Taxable land excludes land that is used as the home of a taxpayer. Where a taxpayer owns multiple parcels of land and the total value of the parcels exceeds $10m, the taxpayer will pay land tax at the higher rate for that part of the total value that exceeds $10m (the High Threshold Value).

The rate applying to the High Threshold Value for individuals is to increase from 1.75% to 2.25%.

The rate applying to the High Threshold Value for companies and trustees is to increase from 2% to 2.5%.

The Government indicated that the increase will effect 850 large property holdings across Queensland.

The increase amounts to an additional $5000 of land tax for each $1m of the total value that exceeds $10m.

If this change goes through, property owners who cannot recover land tax from tenants will need to absorb this additional tax. Where a property owner can recover land tax from tenants, tenants will need to pay the additional tax as part of outgoings contributions.

Point of Consumption tax

The Government has proposed a “Point of Consumption” tax on the net wagering revenue of bookmakers licensed in the Northern Territory that accept bets in Queensland.

The tax will affect bookmakers that have traditional betting offerings (such as Sportsbet, CrownBet and Ladbrokes) and will also affect bookmakers that have different offerings including Lottoland.

Key policy initiatives: Workplace Relations & Safety

A suite of initiatives impacting Queensland workplaces have been announced by the Palaszczuk Government. We outline the key policies below.

  • Work Ready Queensland: Extending the Back to Work Program ($155m)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk promised that if Labor is re-elected, the Labor Government will invest $155m in funding to extend the Back to Work Program to July 2021. This is in addition to the $177.5 million already budgeted for the Back to Work program. The program assists disadvantaged jobseekers, such as young people, long-term unemployed and mature-aged workers.

Under the Back to Work program, employers are eligible for up to:

  • $10,000 for hiring an unemployed worker
  • $15,000 for hiring a long-term unemployed worker (a person unemployed for 52 weeks or more)
  • $20,000 Youth Boost for hiring a young jobseeker aged 15-24 years.

Under the Back to Work program, the Labor Government have proposed a ‘boost’ for employers who take on a mature aged job seekers. The ‘boost’ mimics the Youth Boost, and employers who employ jobseekers over 55 will be eligible for up to $20,000. This will commence on 1 January 2018, ending on 30 June 2018.

You can read the policy here.

  • Work Ready Queensland: Skilling Queenslanders for Work ($180m)

The Skilling Queenslanders for Work program will be extended and ‘boosted’ with an additional $180 million in funding over three years by the Labor Government. Expenditure on the Skilling Queenslanders for Work Program will total $420 million by 2020-2021 due to the proposed increase in funding. This program plays a critical role by improving work opportunities for disadvantaged Queenslanders, and is comprised of various targeted programs, including:

      • Community Work Skills program, where non-profit community organisations deliver tailored assistance to disadvantaged Queenslanders to gain nationally-recognised skills and qualifications up to Certificate III level
        • Work Skills Traineeships program, where community organisations/local councils employ long-term unemployed/disadvantaged job seekers to undertake community works through traineeships
        • Get Set for Work program, where community organisations provide disengaged young people aged 15 – 19 years with nationally-recognised training so they can transition to employment or further their education
        • Ready for Work program, where community organisations and school P&Cs deliver basic job preparation and employability skills to those aged 15 to 24 years
        • Youth Skills program, where community organisations assist 15 to 24 year olds engaged with the Youth Justice Services and QLD Corrective Services with nationally-recognised training to support them into employment;
        • Work Start program, a one off financial incentive of $10,000 to eligible private sector employers who offer traineeships or apprenticeships to individuals who have participated in the above programs
        • First Start program, where wage subsidies are provided to local councils and non-profit community organisations to employ additional trainees.

      You can read the policy here.

    • Extending Works for Queensland ($200m)

A re-elected Labor Government has pledged they will provide up to $200m of additional funding to extend the Works for Queensland program until 2020-2021. This will support job-creating infrastructure works across regional Queensland, bringing the total commitment to $600m.

According to the policy document, Works for Queensland under the Palaszczuk Government will:

  • Generate local jobs outside south east Queensland, meaning up to 6000 extra jobs will be supported by the program extension
  • Build much needed infrastructure in regional areas in partnership with councils
  • Improve the disaster resilience of regional communities.

You can read the policy here.

  • Growing Tourism, Growing Tourism Jobs - Attracting new major events to Queensland ($36m)

The Labor Government has pledged to invest up to $36m for a new “Regional Tourism Infrastructure and Experience Development Program” to assist communities to grow tourism by developing new and improved tourism experiences, products, and to develop the tourism industry capability. The policy provides that this program will provide grants of up to $500,000 on a dollar-for-dollar matched funding basis to local councils, tourism businesses and community organisations. The Queensland Tourism Industry Council forecast that over the next three years more than 20,000 new jobs are expected to be created in the Queensland tourism industry. In the same policy, the Labor Government also pledged up to $48m for a new “Attracting Tourism Fund” to provide incentives to attract new international cruise ships and airline routes to Queensland, and proposes an extension of the Young Tourism Leaders Program.

You can read the policy here.