Campbell Newman’s arrogant LNP government wasted $70 million in a failed bid to offload income-generating State-owned assets, Treasurer Curtis Pitt said today.
Mr Pitt said the ultimate cost to taxpayers of the LNP’s failed asset sales program could have hit a quarter of a billion dollars had Campbell Newman clung to power.
“While Lawrence Springborg, John-Paul Langbroek and Tim Nicholls sat around the Cabinet table, the LNP ripped more than $70 million from frontline services and diverted it into their Strong Choices slush fund and 42 other consultancies,” he said.
“Instead of spending this money on schools and hospitals, Newman and Nicholls shelled it out to consultants in a bid to sell assets owned by all Queenslanders.
“At the very time they were telling Queenslanders to tighten their belts, the LNP was spending more than $20 million alone on Strong Choices propaganda.
“The LNP made a virtue of talking to Queenslanders about asset sales, but behind closed doors they had already hatched a secret plan to sell out all Queenslanders.”
Mr Pitt said Queensland taxpayers would now have to foot the bill for the LNP’s reckless waste, with $70 million-plus lost forever – spent on preparing assets for sale without a mandate.
“We can’t claw back this money, because Tim Nicholls has already spent it,” he said.
“They didn’t have a mandate, but the LNP went ahead anyway and had approved expenditure before the election for up to $250 million in costs associated with preparatory activities and asset transaction costs.
“That means that we now have to factor $43.6 million into the 2014-15 final budget outcome to reimburse Queensland Treasury Corporation for expenses incurred in preparing the asset sales.”
Mr Pitt said the only people who profited from Strong Choices were spin doctors, lawyers and consultants.
“While all this was going on, Tim Nicholls, Lawrence Springborg and John-Paul Langbroek were sacking nurses, picking fights with doctors and slashing vital frontline services,” he said.
“And to make matters worse, the Leader of the Opposition still won’t come clean on how much the LNP wasted on Strong Choices.
“This is despite Mr Springborg’s statement in February that the Newman government had always planned to make public the costs incurred in preparing for asset sales.
“Mr Springborg even claimed that the former Treasurer would disclose these costs to all Queenslanders, as the funds had been drawn from consolidated revenue.
“But now Tim Nicholls is in hiding and no one will be able to figure out exactly how much was wasted on Strong Choices until he makes a full statement on the matter.”
Mr Pitt said the LNP didn’t even provide any funding to QTC to pave the way for asset sales because the LNP arrogantly demanded that any costs would be met from transaction proceeds.
“They’ve left a gaping black hole in Queensland’s finances but Labor will fix it – and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.