Fresh evidence has emerged of the Newman Government’s scandalous and breathtaking financial incompetence in the deal it struck over the Executive Building currently under construction at 1 William Street.
“The Auditor-General has already delivered scathing criticism of the decision to lease offices in the tower at a cost of $1.14 billion over 15 years,” said Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt.
“Now there is compelling evidence that the Newman Government struck a deal that will cost taxpayers far more than if it had been a competent negotiator. At $650 per square metre it agreed to pay more than twice the going rate.
“The Australian Financial Review reported this week that the Department of Housing and Public Works has just negotiated a deal at the A-grade 53 Albert Street office tower at $300 per square metre until at least 2022.
“This latest deal is further proof that the Premier and Treasurer were totally reckless with public money in their haste to acquire luxury offices for themselves and other Ministers.
“We have always said this was a bad deal for taxpayers and no amount of spin from the Treasurer can paint it any other way. He should apologise profusely for ripping off taxpayers.
“This week the Newman Government’s own advisors, Jones Lang LaSalle, reported the outlook for Brisbane’s office market was weak, with highest-ever vacancy rates both in the CBD and on the fringe of the city.
“So why did the Treasurer think it was such a good deal for taxpayers to commit so much to the new Executive Building when there are so many high quality offices lying empty and with tower owners so willing to sweeten deals with juicy incentives?”
In December 2013, the Auditor-General’s report contained stinging criticism of the Newman Government’s handling of office tower sales and the leasing deal for the Executive Building which together will lose taxpayers a total of more than $2.6 billion.
“The record of incompetence is simply incredible,” said Mr Pitt.
“In the first instance the Newman Government sold seven Brisbane CBD office towers for $237 million less than their book value without testing the market and without engaging in a competitive sales process.
“It then agreed to lease back office space at a cost of $1.2 billion, resulting in taxpayers’ money being spent on offices which stand empty because there are no workers to occupy them.
“Now we find that the Newman Government agreed to lease offices in the new Executive Building at a price that considerably exceeds the going rate for prime space in Brisbane.
“What is sickening is that this gross mismanagement has robbed billions of dollars from the public purse that could have been used to build much-needed community facilities and job-creating projects throughout the state.
“Sadly, Queensland will not benefit in any way from this profligate spending because the state will not own the Executive Building. No wonder it will be known in perpetuity as Newman’s Folly.”