Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the independent Auditor-General has identified yet another bungle by Treasurer Tim Nicholls linked to the Newman Government’s new but unnecessary Executive Building.
“This whole Executive Building project costing taxpayers at least $2.6 billion including the side deal the Treasurer struck to sell and rent back seven other office blocks is a disaster for taxpayers and the deal has Tim Nicholls’s fingerprints all over it,” Mr Pitt said.
“There also appears to be no clear strategy and no plan behind the Newman Government’s badly named CBD accommodation plan.
“In a report tabled in State Parliament, the Auditor-General talks of the financial risks associated with office space the LNP Government will rent after selling off seven office blocks to justify its self-indulgent Executive Building.
The Auditor-General’s report said:
With the sale of government buildings to QIC with fixed lease terms, the construction of 1 William Street, and the overall downsizing of the Queensland public sector employee base since 2012-13, the risk remains that the government will be committed to office space in the central business district that may not be required. (See page 28)
“The Auditor-General also said the Department of Housing and Public Works will need to keep closely monitoring the situation,” Mr Pitt said.
“The fact remains this is the third Auditor-General’s report to raise question about the sale and accommodation deals struck by Tim Nicholls.
“Tim Nicholls is the one who helped cut 24,000 government jobs so far this term, reducing the need for government office space.
“Tim Nicholls is the one who sold off seven office buildings at $237 million less than their value.
“He is the one who then signed up taxpayers to foot the $1.2 billion rent bill for those buildings and a further $1.2 billion to rent the new Executive Building.
“Now we find out from the Auditor-General’s report that taxpayers may be paying out rent on space that’s just not needed. Will they be shelling out billions of dollars for empty floors?”
“These comments reinforce earlier Auditor-General reports that pointed out the huge cost to taxpayers of this piece of LNP self-indulgence,” Mr Pitt said.
“In total taxpayers will see $2.6 billion of their money go down the drain just because Campbell Newman and his Ministers want new offices for themselves in the Brisbane CBD.
“Over the next 10-15 years taxpayers will be paying $1.2 billion in rent on the Executive Building; plus another $1.2 billion to rent back the seven Brisbane CBD office blocks sold by Treasurer Tim Nicholls at $237 million less than their value.
“That’s $2.6 billion in LNP waste because taxpayers will rent those seven buildings and never again own them, and they will rent the new Executive Building and never own it.
“To top it off, earlier Auditor-General’s reports noted that there was no business case developed by the Newman Government for the private/public partnership they struck for the new Executive Building.
“Earlier reports also said a traditional competitive sale process was not conducted for the sale of the seven office blocks.
“Treasurer Tim Nicholls has bungled this project from the start and Queensland taxpayers are the big losers from his incompetence,” Mr Pitt said.