Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan
Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan Kari Bourne

Newman Govt's savage cuts hitting living standards: Swan

THE Newman government has a chance to restore confidence in the state by avoiding further public service cuts in Tuesday's budget, federal Treasurer Wayne Swan says.

Mr Swan said the state was still reeling from the austerity measures contained in Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls' first budget.

"The confidence compared here with the rest of the country has gone backwards over the past year after sacking 14,000 workers," Mr Swan told reporters in Brisbane.

"It has had an impact on employment in this state, and there is a state budget coming out, and they should think again when it comes to these savage cuts which are hitting economic growth, hitting living standards, and making life very uncertain for many workers and their families."

Mr Nicholls has already announced he will be forced to delay returning the budget to surplus by a year - to 2015/16 - following a $4.8 billion write down in revenue.

It was a similar problem faced by Mr Swan when he handed down his budget in May.

But if he had any sympathy for the predicament facing his state counterpart, he wasn't showing it.

"Tim Nicholls wasn't up front with what was happening with his revenues. And he should have been," he said.

"He should have been upfront as long ago as the end of last year when it would have been readily apparent to Mr Nicholls that his revenues were down substantially. He didn't do that."

It came as Queensland's councils called on the Newman government to avoid lumping local communities and businesses with an unfair share of the burden of ensuring the state's finances returned to a healthy state.

Local Government Association of Queensland president Margaret de Wit said previous cuts to infrastructure subsidies and other grants had already hit councils hard.

"We accept the Newman government has pledged to get on with the job of returning the state's books to a healthy balance and improving the resilience of the Queensland economy," Ms de Wit said.

"However, we would remind the government that the continued financial sustainability of local councils is vitally important to regional economies."

The government has foreshadowed a range of budget measures that will impact on councils, such as the renamed Emergency Services Levy being extended to 400,000 ratepayers in predominantly rural and regional areas.

Meanwhile, Tuesday's budget will contain more than $25 million to be spent in Queensland's national parks next year.

National Parks Minister Steve Dickson also revealed there would be a scientific review of the national park estate aimed at achieving better management and protection of pristine areas.

Of the $25 million to be flagged in the budget 6.3 million will go towards improving visitor access across the state, while $2.2 million will be spent on upgrades to some of the state's most popular visitor centres.

Mr Dickson was highly critical of the former Labor government's decision to lock up "huge tracts" of land, which he described as a "tokenistic bid to reach a percentage target which had nothing to do with land quality, but had instead been a desperate attempt to lock in Greens preferences".

"Thanks to Labor, our national park estate now includes land which housed dairies and wineries, as well as a sporting field that children now need a permit to be able to play upon," Mr Dickson said.

But he denied the scientific review of 12.5 million hectares of land was being done to revoke the state's national parks, but would instead result in "higher protection and proper management for our pristine natural areas".