Treasurer Curtis Pitt.
Treasurer Curtis Pitt. Paul Braven GLA020217TREASURER

Regional jobs are Pitt's 'number one' budget priority

QUEENSLAND treasurer Curtis Pitt has backed his government's regional job credentials in the lead-up to the next election.

Speaking at a pre-budget lunch in Brisbane he said creating jobs was his "number one priority".

But Mr Pitt admitted the budget was set to take a $1.1 billion hit from Cyclone Debbie and the impact would be nearly twice that for the wider economy.

"Economic losses from Cyclone Debbie and associated floods are estimated at more than $2 billion, including damages to individual properties, our infrastructure and impacts on our exports - particularly coal and sugar," he said.

He said storm damage and flooding was expected to reduce gross state product by about 0.75% across this financial year and next.

But Mr Pitt said reducing the unemployment rate in regional areas remained the government's main goal.

"Part of our economic plan has been a deliberate focus on regional economies to help transition from the highs of the mining economy," he said.

He pointed to plans unveiled in the last budget to encourage employers in regional areas to hire unemployed youth and to infrastructure funding for regional areas.

But he admitted the unemployment rate in much of regional Queensland remained "stubborn".

Despite such programs, the Opposition and crossbench have accused the government of concentrating on Brisbane at regional Queensland's expense.

Shadow treasurer Scott Emerson last month said the government had "sold out" the regions and young Queenslanders were paying the price.

"This youth unemployment crisis extends to many, many parts of the state, particularly regional Queensland," he said.

"This is an indictment against a Labor Government that has consistently sold out the bush."

- NewsRegional



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