Tackling the cost of living
Inflationary trends in Australia have broadly followed global trends in recent years (Chart 3), with the initial surge in inflation primarily driven by increased prices of goods, but more recent cost pressures have also broadened across services components.
Rental vacancy rates in Brisbane have trended lower since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, partly driven by a falling average household size as many households opted for more living space. Brisbane’s rental vacancy rate has been at or below one per cent since early 2022, driving strong growth in rents.
Consumer inflation trends in Australia have also been impacted by flooding events throughout 2022, impacting agricultural supply. These flooding events have exacerbated food price increases that had already been impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other constraints, including COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions and high transport and fertiliser costs.
Taking action on the cost of living
The Queensland Government recognises the cost-of-living challenges being faced by Queenslanders.
In recognition of this, the government is providing a record $8.224 billion in concessions in 2023–24 to Queensland families and businesses, an increase of more than 21 per cent compared with 2022–23.
$1.6 billion Cost-of-Living Relief
The 2023–24 Budget is providing Queensland households and businesses with an unprecedented $1.617 billion in new and expanded cost-of-living relief in 2023–24.
The 2023–24 Budget delivers $1.483 billion for additional electricity bill support to households and small businesses facing cost-of-living pressures. This is the most significant electricity bill support package announced by any state or territory, more than doubling the size of the Federally agreed support package for Queensland under the National Energy Bill Relief Fund.
As part of this package, all Queensland households will automatically receive a $550 Cost of Living Rebate on their electricity bill in 2023–24, while around 600,000 vulnerable households will benefit from a higher $700 Cost of Living Rebate.
In addition, vulnerable households will continue to receive a $372 rebate under the Queensland Electricity Rebate Scheme, bringing total support for this group to $1,072 in 2023–24.
The Government’s substantial cost-of-living relief package will more than offset typical household electricity bill increases in 2023–24. In some cases, households will have zero bills or be in credit in 2023–24.
Including the $550 Cost of Living Rebate in 2023–24, the government will have provided all Queensland households with a total of $1,125 in electricity rebates since 2018 (Chart 4).
Eligible small businesses in Queensland will also receive an automatic rebate of $650 on their electricity bill in 2023–24. This includes around 205,000 Queensland small businesses that consume less than 100,000 kilowatt hours per annum.
The Queensland Government’s cost-of-living relief package significantly increases and broadens support under the National Energy Bill Relief Plan, jointly funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments (Chart 5).
As part of this package, the Queensland Government has also allocated $60 million for a Household Energy Initiatives program, and $10 million for Vulnerable Households Energy Advice Initiatives to deliver energy efficiency measures to keep costs down for households, enabling more choice and greater energy equity. This constitutes Queensland’s co-contribution to the Australian Government’s Household Energy Upgrades Fund.
Richard and Joan are a retired couple in their seventies with a Queensland Seniors Card and both on the pension. They live in their own home in South East Queensland with no dependents. In 2023–24, the household will receive a $700 Cost of Living Rebate plus the $372 electricity rebate off their electricity bill bringing total support to $1,072. Richard and Joan are also eligible for other concessions including a $120 South East Queensland water subsidy, $200 for council rates, $87 for reticulated natural gas, an average benefit of $830 for general dental care under the Oral Health Scheme, 50 per cent discount on Translink public transport services in South East Queensland and a 50 per cent concession on a 12-month registration fee on their 4-cylinder car – reducing the cost of their registration to $180.30.
Kindergarten services offer early childhood education programs to help children prepare for school, and are an important part of a child’s learning, social and wellbeing development. The significant cost of early childhood education and care can prevent some parents from enrolling their children in kindergarten.
The government will also provide 15 hours of free kindergarten from January 2024 for all 4-year-old Queensland children to further relieve cost-of-living pressures, improve access to early childhood education, and support economic participation for parents across the state. On average, a family attending a sessional kindy for 15 hours per week that charges $46 per day will save $4,600 a year in fees.
Over the past 3 years, more than 141,000 FairPlay vouchers have been delivered to help young Queenslanders participate in sport and recreation. Each FairPlay voucher provides value up to $150, which can be used towards sport and active recreation membership, registration or participation fees for eligible activities with registered activity providers. Each eligible child can apply for one voucher per calendar year.
Activate! Queensland: 2019–2029 is the Queensland Government’s 10-year strategy with a long-term vision to enrich the Queensland way of life through physical activity.
The 2023–24 Budget provides increased funding of $4.8 million over 2 years to extend the availability of FairPlay vouchers to eligible children aged 0 to 4 years for learn to swim activities.
Other measures to tackle the cost of living
The government is committing increased funding of $70.3 million over 4 years for the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme to help rural and regional Queenslanders who travel to access essential health care services – refer to Better health services for all Queenslanders for more information.
Additional funding of $22 million over 4 years will be provided to support the Nursing and Midwifery Student Regional Placements Allowance of $5,000 per student. For eligible Queensland residents, this cost-of-living allowance is designed to attract and retain nursing and midwifery students to complete their compulsory, unpaid placements in regional, rural, and remote locations across Queensland – refer to Better health services for all Queenslanders for more information.
The Government Managed Housing Rental Rebate continues to target low-income families and individuals and represents the difference between the estimated rents that would be payable in the private market and rent that is charged by government based on household income. Assistance is provided to approximately 55,000 households. The estimated average yearly subsidy per household for 2023–24 is $12,181 at a total value of $670.5 million in 2023–24.
Vehicle and Boat Registration concessions are provided for a range of eligible groups. A concession for a 4-cylinder vehicle would halve the 12-month registration fee from $360.60 to $180.30. The Queensland Government will provide $206.8 million in motor vehicle, boat, special interest vehicle and heavy vehicle registration concessions in 2023–24.
The Textbook and Resource Allowance is available for all parents and caregivers of secondary school age students to assist with the cost of textbooks and learning resources, providing support of either $146 or $317 per student in 2023 (depending on year level). The government is providing total funding of $83.2 million in 2023–24 for this concession.
From 1 July 2023, the cost of replacing Queensland driver licences, photo identification cards and industry authority cards will reduce to just $35 at an estimated cost of $23.1 million over 4 years.
A low-income family with a Health Care card, 3 children aged 4, 13 and 16 could benefit from a broad range of concessions, including up to $700 through the Cost of Living Rebate plus the $372 electricity rebate off electricity bills bringing total support to $1,072 off their electricity bill. The family will also receive 15 hours of free kindy per week. As the family also attends sessional kindy for 15 hours per week, that charges $46 per day, they will save $4,600 a year in fees. They will also benefit from $463 through the Textbook and Resource Allowance paid to their school, and a 50 per cent discount on Translink public transport services in South East Queensland for their 3 children. Based on these measures, the family may benefit from around $6,135 in concessions in 2023–24.
Further information can be found in the Concessions Statement – Appendix A: Budget Paper No.2 – 2023–24 Budget Strategy and Outlook