Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says recent comments on asset sales by the Premier and the Treasurer expose the hypocrisy of Newman LNP Government plans for asset sales.
“It now seems that rather than pay down debt, any asset sales are going to fund LNP promises for the next election campaign,” Mr Pitt said.
“For the past two years Treasurer Tim Nicholls has been adamant that asset sales are needed to pay down debt.
“That was supposedly the urgent, number-one priority. The LNP cannot have it both ways — it is either selling assets to pay off debt or it is selling them to fund election promises.
“Now the Premier says new dams and raising the Wivenhoe Dam’s wall could be funded by asset sales, and last week Tim Nicholls himself came up with a list of uncosted promises to be funded by asset sales.
“Just last week the Treasurer nominated the Townsville Ring Road; upgrades to the Bruce Highway; Gregory Development Road upgrades; and a football stadium in Townsville as just a few projects that could be delivered using the proceeds of asset sales.
“Asset sales have also been raised in connection with funding Brisbane’s new underground bus and rail tunnel that was announced before being accurately costed.
“The LNP’s lack of a coherent plan means more assets will be on the auction block including our entire electricity network and major hospitals.”
Mr Pitt said the LNP started its first term by commissioning the discredited Costello Audit to generate fabricated horror stories about debt to justify asset sales.
“Liberal Party life member Peter Costello said $25 billion in asset sales were needed to regain the state’s AAA credit rating, but now it seems the funds from asset sales will be a magic pudding to foot the bill for more uncosted LNP election commitments,” he said.
“The LNP has sacked up to 20,000 government workers and has slashed frontline services just to find the $4 billion needed to pay for its unfunded 2012 election promises.
“The LNP axe started to fall on jobs and services even though before the election it said it had identified funding sources for its commitments and after also promising government workers their jobs were safe and that it would enhance frontline services.
“Also at the last election the Treasurer said he had a plan to pay down debt without asset sales, not a plan to weaken the State Budget’s operating position into the future by engaging in a mass sell-off of profitable assets to fund new LNP promises.
“It shows the so-called ‘debt crisis’ never existed. State debt has been manageable and under the former government delivered major infrastructure projects like new hospitals that also created thousands of jobs and kept Queensland out of recession in the GFC.
“Mr Nicholls has already struck a deal with federal Treasurer Joe Hockey to sell assets —a deal that would see Queensland lose profitable assets and tax equivalent payments in exchange for the Federal Government funding infrastructure it is obliged to fund anyway.
“Only this Treasurer could put together a deal that results in a lose-lose-lose outcome for Queensland taxpayers.
“Last week in Gladstone the Treasurer was on his lecture tour about asset sales but was told in no uncertain terms to take it steady and to take a long-term view,” he said.
“There is no need for a fire sale of state assets just to satisfy the LNP’s ideological desire to be a do-nothing government and to sell off all government activities and assets to the private sector.”
Mr Pitt said the LNP continued to mislead Queenslanders on state debt.
“For the record, Labor did not rack up or leave $80 billion of debt, nor did Labor ever incur an interest bill of $450,000 per hour,” he said.
“To say otherwise is a blatant deception designed at hiding the increase in debt under the Newman Government of $14.6 billion over two years, or $830,000 per hour — a deception also designed to hide the fact that this Treasurer had no plan for Queensland’s finances or the economy before the 2012 state election,” Mr Pitt said.