Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the latest jobless figures mean it is essential the Newman Government releases the secret second report of the Costello Audit recommending privatisation of government-owned corporations (GOCs).

Speaking in Townsville today Mr Pitt said: “Regional Queenslanders need to know the fate of GOCs including local port authorities and power industry assets such as Ergon Energy.

“The government has received the second volume of the Costello Audit, but the LNP’s leadership team of the Premier, Deputy Premier and the Treasurer insist on keeping it under lock and key.

“The Costello Audit is being paid for with public money and in accordance with the terms of reference the interim recommendations were provided to the government on 30 November.

“Why then hasn’t the Government released these findings as they did with the first handover in June – do they have something to hide?

“An Australian Financial Review article on Saturday quoting Treasurer Tim Nicholls clearly stated that the secret report recommends privatisation of GOCs such as the Port of Townsville Limited, other port authorities, and state power industry assets.

“That means jobs in Townsville are on the line as well as jobs at other regional port authorities including Cairns-based Ports North, Gladstone Ports Corporation, and North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation serving the Mackay/Whitsunday region.

“The LNP leadership team — the Premier, Deputy Premier and the Treasurer — are notorious for their secretive way of running the government and the eagerness to slash jobs and to cut, sell, or outsource government services.

“Hiding the second volume of the Costello Audit is second nature to them, but regional Queenslanders deserve to see its recommendations.

“After all, nobody still seriously believes that an audit headed by a still-active Liberal Party identity is truly independent, plus it is taxpayers who continue to foot the bill of $13,400 for Peter Costello to work for four days each month.

“The Treasurer has admitted that prior to the state election he settled on Peter Costello to conduct the audit, which means the LNP has always had mass sackings, frontline services cuts and asset sales on its agenda even before winning office.
“Yet not one household across the state was letterboxed by the LNP in the campaign saying they would be slashing and burning jobs and public assets.

“In the same vein, taxpayers were never told the second instalment of the Costello Audit would be stamped ‘top secret’,” he said.

Mr Pitt said ABS jobless figures released last week showed that even before it started privatising state assets the LNP government was putting Queenslanders out of work instead of generating 420,000 new jobs over six years as the Premier promised before the March election.

He said to reach its 420,000 target the government needed to generate 190 jobs a day across the state including an estimated:

  • 12 a day in North and North West Queensland (about 25,800 over six years based on the region’s existing employment share),
  • 18 a day in the Mackay/Whitsunday region (more than 40,200 over six years), and
  • 12 a day in Far North Queensland (more than 25,300 over six years).

“Privatisation of port authorities and our power industry assets will lead to job shedding and will put the LNP’s 4% jobless goal even further out of reach,” he said.

“The Labor Party has made it clear we will not support privatisation. We know from bitter experience that Queenslanders do not support privatisation and will not support a sell-off of our power assets or other GOCs.

“By contrast the LNP is trying to privatise or outsource as many government services as possible regardless of the impact on people’s jobs.

“It is no wonder the ABS jobless figures for November released last Thursday show our state’s unemployment rate of 6% is still around the levels not experienced since the height of the global financial crisis,” Mr Pitt said.

The 12 government-owned corporations considered in the secret second report of the Costello Audit included:

  • CS Energy
  • Energex
  • Ergon Energy
  • Powerlink Queensland
  • Stanwell Corporation
  • Far North Queensland Ports Corporation
  • Gladstone Ports Corporation
  • North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation
  • Port of Townsville
  • Queensland Rail
  • QIC Limited
  • SunWater

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