Jobs creation and accountability will be the new Queensland Government's legislative focus initially.
The Queensland Government has announced its intention to embark on an "extensive legislative program" as it introduced five Bills during its first Parliamentary sitting last week.
This legislative program is set to touch on a number of key policy areas from political integrity to jobs creation, with payroll tax rebates for employers and changes to political donation laws being the first big-ticket policy cabs off the rank.
In introducing a Bill to provide a 25% payroll tax rebate over the next three years for employers hiring specified apprentices and trainees, Treasurer Curtis Pitt spoke about ensuring Queensland’s economic growth into the future by providing a highly skilled workforce to permit delivery of projects.
The Payroll Tax Rebate, Revenue and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, now referred to the Finance & Administration Committee, is likely to be the first of many Bills focusing on jobs creation, with the Government flagging the following relevant policies to play a part in its legislative program:
- the introduction of a requirement that 10% of workers on major public and GOC projects must be apprentices and trainees;
- the implementation of a "Locals First Program" to support local contractors and suppliers for regional areas;
- the introduction of legislation to prevent 100% fly-in/fly-out projects to create more jobs for Queenslanders in regional communities;
- the introduction of a three-year payroll tax holiday for new companies coming to Queensland as a result of Advance Queensland research programs;
- the introduction of a "Ready To Work" scheme to help young people to prepare themselves to enter the job market;
- the establishment of "Jobs Queensland", a roundtable group representing business and industry which will advise the Government on the skills that the State needs.
The Government also introduced three Bills which aim to deliver on its promise to restore accountability and integrity in Queensland politics.
The Electoral & Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 introduces (and reverses) a number of changes to political donation laws, including the following:
- the threshold for the disclosure of anonymous gifts to candidates, parties, third parties and associated entities will be lowered from $12,800 to $1,000, backdated to 21 November 2013;
- large gifts of $100,000 or more will be subject to special reporting requirements; and
- six-monthly reporting of donations by political parties and associated entities will be required.
Over the coming months, Queenslanders can also expect the following policy announcements to shape the integrity and accountability Bills introduced to Parliament:
- levels of government accountability will be increased with the reinstatement of an independent Crime and Corruption Commission;
- a Commission of Inquiry will be established relevant to organised crime across Queensland (with the powers of a Royal Commission) to focus on broadening criminal justice laws to target more than just bikie gangs; and
- a new body, Building Queensland, will be established to assess all major infrastructure proposals worth $50m or more, to independently ensure that infrastructure is funded and sited where needed and is not determined by political demands or influences.