The Newman Government’s decision to sell office blocks in Brisbane’s CBD is a financial disaster for taxpayers says Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt.
“The Department of Public Works has confessed it is paying $267,000 a month to lease offices which sit empty, but that is just the tip of a financial iceberg,” said Mr Pitt.
“Documents obtained under Right to Information indicate that the cost of leasing back office space after the sale of seven city centre towers will exceed the sale proceeds by more than half a billion dollars.
“There has been monumental financial mismanagement and Queenslanders will have to pay for it.”
Mr Pitt said that the seven office blocks were sold to public and private investors in the Queensland Investment Corporation for $562 million in a deal Treasurer Tim Nicholls said at the time was good for taxpayers.
“He sold some of the best office buildings in the city at a time when demand was low and the vacancy rate was at a 20-year high. It was sheer folly and a fire sale.
“He has refused to reveal the book value of those buildings and that can only be because he knows they were sold for much less than their true market value to achieve a quick sale.
“Leasing back office space will leave Queenslanders out of pocket by more than half a billion dollars over 11 years. Now we learn that, because Mr Newman has sacked more than 17,000 public servants, the Government is leasing office space it has no use for at a cost to taxpayers of more than $3 million a year. With every new revelation the news gets worse and worse.
“This is financial incompetence on a grand scale . Modelling by Queensland Treasury Corporation leaked last year clearly showed it would be cheaper for the Government to maintain ownership of the office buildings and to build an own a new office building at 1 William Street, when needed in the future.
“Campbell Newman and Mr Nicholls ignored that advice because they prioritised new offices for themselves ahead of the interests of Queenslanders. This is a show of bungling ineptitude that will define their time at the helm – cut and sell in haste and suffer the consequences for years to come.
“To pay more than $3 million a year to lease offices no-one uses is a shambles and Mr Nicholls has a duty to explain his actions.”
The seven buildings and their sale price:
- David Longland Building, 63 George Street – $37,000,000
- Education House, 54 Mary Street – $66,000,000
- 61 Mary Street – $90,000,000
- Primary Industries Building, 62-80 Ann Street – $37,000,000
- 111 George Street – $143,000,000
- 33 Charlotte Street – $78,500,000
- Mineral House, 41 George Street – $75,500,000
Figures obtained under Right to Information.