Mater hospital purchase price revealed in 2020 budget
THE COST of purchasing the former Gladstone Mater Hospital was revealed in yesterday’s Palaszczuk Government Budget along with several other election promises for the port city.
Queensland Government ministerial departments issued 21 statements to media concerning the budget, with the Gladstone region referenced in four announcements about health, renewables and hydrogen, and state development, infrastructure, local government and planning.
The 2020–21 Budget commits to a four-year capital works program of $56.031 billion, which will also flow onto Gladstone in multiple other areas.
The Observer spoke to Gladstone MP and Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water Minister Glenn Butcher, who is still recovering from surgery to alleviate sciatic back pain.
Mr Butcher said funding for Gladstone’s emerging hydrogen industry and the partnership announcement between Stanwell and Japanese industrial gases giant Iwatani Corporation would progress the city’s hydrogen export plans.
“It’s fantastic news for Gladstone and a great opportunity for us in the new government for the next four years to really push the button on hydrogen,” he said.
“We’ve had people from all over Australia want to come here and get these projects started that they have been talking about for so long, and once we get the virus protection around the world a lot of people, particularly these bigger players, will start to sink their teeth into places like Gladstone.”
Health and Ambulance Services Minister Yvette D’Ath revealed the cost of the former Mater Private Hospital purchase as $16.9 million, in the health statement.
She said the purchase was part of the $21.8 billion record health budget.
“Over the next four years we will hire an extra 9475 frontline health staff, including 5800 nurses and midwives, 1500 doctors, 475 paramedics and 1700 new allied health professionals,” she said.
“This includes 2822 in 2020-21 funded in this budget.
“Importantly, our record infrastructure spend in 2020-21 will provide a boost to our local economies through the ongoing creation of jobs at all stages.”
Part of the health announcement also included $26 million for 135 new and replacement ambulance vehicles with power-assisted stretchers to improve patient and officer safety.
Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Minister Mick de Brenni confirmed funding for the three renewable zones announced during the election campaign, including Central Queensland.
“The $500 million funding is backed-up by a $145 million investment to unlock three renewable energy zones in southern, central, and northern Queensland, set to help new renewable projects flourish,” he said.
“Right now, renewables make up approximately 20 per cent of Queensland’s energy mix, and that figure will more than double over the next decade as we aim for 50 per cent by 2030.”
A further $10 million was announced for funding the emerging Hydrogen industry, on top of
$15 million the government had already committed.
“Australian Gas Networks will build a facility in Gladstone to deliver renewable hydrogen into the city’s gas network,” Mr de Brenni said.
On November 27, the government announced a partnership between Stanwell and Japanese industrial gases company Iwatani Corporation would progress planning on a renewable hydrogen export facility in Gladstone.
More than 18 months of planning has already been undertaken to confirm the opportunity for hydrogen to provide a versatile energy carrier that can export renewable energy from Queensland to Japan.
Mr Butcher’s $2 million announcement for a hydrogen training and development facility at Gladstone State High School for future employment prospects was also committed to.
Gladstone was also mentioned by Deputy Premier Steven Miles in an announcement concerning manufacturing hubs, but the city will receive no additional funding at this stage.
“$8.5 million to establish new manufacturing hubs in Mackay and on the Gold Coast which will expand on the successful regional hub network already established in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and Gladstone,” he said.
The region’s agricultural industry will also benefit through $81.6 million to cut irrigation costs.
“The Budget will invest $81.6 million to slash irrigation water bills across the state over the next three years, which builds on the $1.2 billion we’ve invested in water infrastructure since 2017 that has already supported around 2300 jobs,” Mr Miles said.
“Again as we promised at the election, our government will deliver a 15 per cent cut in irrigation water charges for the 6,400 farmers who buy water from Queensland’s 35 state-owned irrigation schemes.
“In addition, we will also reduce water charges by 50 per cent for fruit and vegetable growers, which in turn supports thousands of harvesting and picking jobs.
“The price drops start from 1 July next year.”