Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the revelation the Newman Government has engaged investment banks to begin the sale process for some of Queensland’s most valuable state-owned assets proves it can’t be trusted.
“The Newman Government always maintained it would not sell assets without a mandate at a future election but is now embarking on a record asset-sales program including the electricity and water network in regional areas with no mandate,” said Mr Pitt.
The Australian Financial Review has revealed that Maquarie Group has been engaged to prepare SunWater assets worth up to $980 million for sale while Rothschild has been asked to start the sale process for the $10 billion poles and wires electricity business, Powerlink.
Mr Pitt said Premier Campbell Newman now had to be honest with Queenslanders.
“He needs to tell us how much he is spending on these consultants and how many jobs are at risk from the sale of these assets,” he said.
“It looks as if Treasurer Tim Nicholls is winning the internal argument within the LNP over asset sales.
“When the Treasurer was asked in Parliament last week if he stood by his endorsement of an Infrastructure Partnerships Australia report which recommended the sale of $48 billion in electricity assets he said he stood by that.
“Meanwhile the Premier said Powerlink, and electricity poles and wires businesses, were not being considered for sale. Mr Newman said ‘The poles and wires transmissions stuff, I believe, should be owned by the people because they are natural monopolies.’
“It is clear that the Treasurer is now running the Newman Government and the LNP is determined to push forward with these asset sales whether Queenslanders like it or not,” said Mr Pitt.
Earlier this year there was a fire sale of seven Brisbane CBD office buildings for $226 million less than their book value. Factoring in new rental costs the total cost to the taxpayer of these sales will exceed $750 million.
The Newman Government has also sold TAFE sites across Queensland and raised $58 million from the sale of school property in the last financial year.
“Nobody voted for this program of sacking, selling and slashing,” said Mr Pitt.
“Labor learnt the lesson the hard way. We received a strong message that Queenslanders do not support asset sales and privatisation.
“Now Queenslanders need to send Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls the same message.”