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12th October 2022

I rise in support of the Betting Tax and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, and the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2022 and Appropriation (Parliament) Bill (No. 3) 2022.

Queensland's racing industry is a significant contributor to the state's economy and a significant employer of Queenslanders, contributing more than $1.9 Billion to the state, while supporting nearly 14,000 jobs over the last financial year alone, with 4,000 of those jobs created only in the last 5 years.

Our racing industry on the Sunshine Coast contributed $103.6 Million, while supporting 842 jobs locally.

It also plays an important role in the social fabric of the state, particularly in rural and regional areas, with 43,000 people participating in the industry, and more than 675,000 attendees to the state’s 128 racing clubs over the last financial year.

This is why it’s absolutely vital to ensure we have a sustainable funding model for our state’s racing industry, to properly safeguard its existing economic and social contributions while providing room for its continued growth.

The changes included in the amendments involve:
imposing a 5 per cent racing levy in addition to the current taxing rate for betting tax of 15 per cent, effectively raising the taxing rate to 20 per cent;
incorporating free bets into the calculation of betting tax; and
hypothecating 80 per cent of annual betting tax revenue to the Racing Queensland Board (Racing Queensland).

The current betting tax paid by betting operators is set at a taxing rate of 15 per cent. The Bill amends the Betting Tax Act 2018 to add a discrete racing levy component of 5 per cent to the taxing rate. This effectively increases the taxing rate to 20 per cent.

The Bill also amends the Betting Tax Act 2018 to incorporate free bets into the calculation of taxable wagering revenue, from 1 December 2022.

Only one other jurisdiction does not currently impose a betting tax, the Northern territory and, of those that do, all incorporate free bets into the calculation of betting taxes except Tasmania.

Amendments to the Racing Act 2002 and Racing Regulation 2013 will ensure that country thoroughbred race meetings in Queensland receive a minimum amount of funding each year from the hypothecated betting tax revenue paid to Racing Queensland under the Betting Tax Act, providing certainty to participants about funding for country racing into the future and reducing reliance on government grants to continue operating.

This move backs in the $105.6 million the Palaszczuk Government has invested through the Country Racing Program over the last six years, and locks in annual funding at a minimum of $20 Million, with the option for Racing Queensland to provide more to the program as required.

Now we know the existing funding arrangements introduced by the former Newman LNP government aren’t working, as it allows large foreign owned multinationals corporations to bleed our local racing industry dry.

The owners of Ladbrokes and Neds, The Entain Group, recorded nearly $2 billion in revenue last year, and the owner of Betfair, Flutter Group, recorded 2.5 billion in global revenue.

Its about time for these online bookmakers to return their fair share of profits to our Queensland race clubs, and that’s what these amendments will do.
Mental Health Levy
Now with regard to the amendments relating to the Mental Health levy.

Announced as part of the 2022-23 Budget to deliver on a bipartisan recommendation of the Mental Health Select Committee, chaired by the Member for Greenslopes, these amendments will aid the injection of additional $1.6 billion for mental health services, together with $28.5 million in capital funding, to support plans that focus on addressing issues around mental health, addiction, substance abuse and suicide.

Now, we know we had to do something after the $380 Million worth of cuts to community services, including mental health services, committed by the former Newman LNP government, and I’m glad those opposite can agree with that.

Our commitments will focus on rehabilitation care, additional community care units, adolescent day programs and Step-Up Step-Down services to help people transition from hospital or avoid hospital admission in the first instance.

To fund these commitments, we will impose a mental health levy on employers with annual Australian taxable wages over $10 million.

This levy will only affect the top 1 per cent of Queensland businesses, touching on business like, Coles, Woolworths, Westpac, Westfarmers, Commonwealth Bank and Telstra – all of which posted Billion Dollar net profits last financial year.

It will affect companies like Harvey Norman, who held onto $16 million of JobKeeper while posting record profits of $1.2 billion last financial year

And Best & Less, who received $42 million in JobKeeper, despite turning a profit and paying executive bonuses

These amendments are estimated to provide annual revenue of $425 million by 2025-26, for funding expenditure on mental health and associated services and investment.

Our Government will not leave behind those Queenslanders and their families living with the challenge of mental illness.

Appropriation Bills
On 14 July 2022, the Governor in Council authorised unforeseen expenditure incurred during the 2021-22 financial year of $2,825,309,000.

Parliamentary approval for the unforeseen expenditure is now being sought, which is comprised of $2,185,000 for the Legislative Assembly and Parliamentary Service and $2,823,124,000 incurred by 14 other departments

The majority (62%) of the unforeseen expenditure arises from three departments

Department of Environment and Science, primarily due to additional funding to bring forward payments to local councils in relation to revenue collected from the Waste Disposal Levy.

Queensland Treasury, including for the Australian Government's HomeBuilder Grant, revised Queensland Government Insurance Fund claims and beneficiary payments for superannuation and central leave schemes and additional First Home Owners’ Grants and

Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, which was due to measures including the Building Acceleration Fund, investment in a vaccine manufacturing facility, the on-forwarding of the Australian Government's partial prepayment of 2022-23 funding for Financial Assistance Grants to local governments and funding adjustments for Queensland Reconstruction Authority to cover the recovery and reconstruction costs primarily arising from the flooding in the summer of 2021-22.

The unforeseen expenditure incurred by the Legislative Assembly and Parliamentary Service was primarily due to additional funding for enterprise bargaining outcomes and speech recognition technology for parliamentary proceedings.

This unforeseen expenditure is a routine part of the Budget cycle and it is incorrect to equate it to departmental overspending.

Like any good government, the Palaszczuk Labor government looks after the administration of the State and the management of its assets for the benefit of the People of Queensland, something those opposite seem to have trouble grasping on occasion.

I commend the Treasurer for his diligent and responsive management of our State’s finances and for introducing this Bill.

When looking to other states, in 2021-22, New South Wales, led by the Perrott LNP government, had the equivalent of unforeseen expenditure of $17.8 billion - six times more substantial than for our budget.

Our Government makes no apologies for supporting the Queensland economy and Queenslanders through unpredictable times.

Members Opposite would not understand, because they bragged about cutting the infrastructure budget.

They relished the opportunity to cut the Health Budget

They couldn’t wait to sack senior public servants and gut the public service

They did their very best to sell off Electricity generators CS Energy and Stanwell to the highest bidder.

The Gladstone and Townsville ports, the Mount Isa rail line. The list goes on.

Rather then focus on growing our economy to provide greater benefits to the People of Queensland, they actively competed with each other in a race to the bottom to CUT, SACK, AND SELL.

That’s their legacy in this place, in this State, as the People of Queensland remember all too well

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