Sunday 21 June 2009

Has anyone seen our $446 million?

John Robinson from Kuranda tries to track down a few million million dollars, from the sale of our Cairns Airport.

In April 2008 the proposal to sell the Cairns Airport to a private consortium was announced with much fanfare by Premier Anna Bligh. We were told that the sale of Cairns airport would fund a $450 million expansion of the city's existing hospital.

Then on Christmas Eve last year, it was reported that our airport had been sold for $530 million.

The ABC reported at the time...
  • The $530 million sale will provide the Government with funds to proceed with the $446 million redevelopment of Cairns Base Hospital next year."
A press release from Cairns Airport trumpets...

  • "Premier Anna Bligh said today the $446 million redeveloped hospital for Cairns is full steam ahead following the successful sale of Cairns Airport.

    The proceeds of the sale will go directly into the redevelopment of the Cairns Hospital,'' Ms Bligh said.

    "The comprehensive redevelopment will include additional cardiac care facilities, full day surgery unit, specialist clinics and pathology services, and integrated mental health and cancer care units. "By 2014, the redevelopment will mean 168 extra beds.

Not unnaturally enough, we the users of the hospital, expected that the $446 million would come out of the $530 million sale. Or so we thought.

The efforts of the ALP in Brisbane to placate the party faithful in Cairns was today reported by the Cairns Post. Apparently ALP members were told that...

“$446 million redevelopment of Cairns Base Hospital could be “shelved” if the Bligh Government’s sale of state owned assets does not go ahead.”

So the question needs to be asked, and asked loudly, where the hell has the money from the sale of the Cairns Airport gone?

Obviously not to fund the upgrade to the Cairns Base Hospital.

I would suspect that rather than being earmarked for the redevelopment, the $446 million went straight into the black hole of consolidated revenue and thus straight off the bottom line debt.
So now it appears that we have a privately owned airport and no funds for the redevelopment of Cairns Base Hospital.

What guarantee do we have that any of the $15 billion hoped to be generated from the fire sale will be allocated to replace the now apparently missing $446 million?

I wonder if the Member for Cairns still stands by her comments of last year. "This is a great outcome for the people of Cairns and for the tourism industry."

Former Cairns 1st Council candidate, Richie Bates, echoes the opinion of many in the Cairns community. “So what’s happened with that money?” he asked last week.

Has anyone seen it?


nocturnal congress said...

That's the $446 million dollar question on everyone's lips. Where has it gone? As for privatisation of State assets, the entire Western world has woken up to how economically ruinous that is.
Christ, the catch-cry during the 70s,80s, and 90s was that "private enterprise" (everyone had a maniacal feverish look on their faces when they said it) was the only way to manage anything.
Well here we are in 2009. We know that the fanatical supporters of privatisation made their fortunes, ripped off their own fellow countrymen, didn't give a stuff about the public or the environment, and only pandered to the shareholders. And Governments around the world are buying their assets back. All privatisation has done is to make a few people extremely wealthy. Coo, ta very much!

Alison Alloway said...

Privatisation has not improved TELSTRA, but indeed robbed Australians of a major money maker to fund our Government services, health, welfare etc. QANTAS has not improved with privatisation, but talk to QANTAS pilots and they will tell you how worried they are about the state of the planes. Privatised employment agencies have made their proprietors extremely wealthy (look at Kevin Rudd's wife) yet not delivered any realistic service to the unemployed. (Most unemployed people find their own jobs.)
Centrelink is currently experimenting with "quarantining" welfare payments with a view to outsourcing some payment streams to corporations for "food stamps". In the USA certain corporations have the contracts for "food stamps" and they give the recipients what they call "Second Harvest" fruit and vegetables (spoiled or blemished etc) and canned goods past their expiry dates. Obviously the corporations are making a massive fortune out of it.
It is sad to see Australia continue relentlessly along the same path.

colinwho dares said...

I have spent many years getting labor party persons elected , it was my passion , but let me tell you all right now , if the money has disappeared .
So will all labor pollies in cairns district , I promise !
And they know I don,t jest .

Jude Johnston said...

I believe it has been sucked into the consolidated fund black hole. I doubt very much that a Cost Centre called Cairns Base Hospital Redevelopment was created and the funds deposited into it awaiting disbursement.

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

I completely agree re privatisation above - especially when govts privatise organisations (eg. Telstra, electricity, water) that are essential, & MAKE MONEY. It's called 'selling off the family jewels' - once they're gone, they are pretty much out of the sphere of govt to buy them back, so the public can benefit from the money.
Capt Bligh is now talking about selling off the railways transport sector.
But come on folks - did you really believe Bligh & Boyle & Co. when they said the airport money would be diverted to the Base Hospital upgrade? Come onnnnn - they're pollies. I for one never doubted it would disappear into the Briso Black Hole. Call me cynical, but there you are.... and quite frankly, I think an LNP Govt would have done just the same.

Alison Alloway said...

I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s hearing people enthuse for privatisation of our public assets. Government ownership was seen as "socialism" and was seen as bad in everything it undertook. Everyone always said, "Look at the Railways!" as an explanation that Government ownership was bad. In those days the Northern Railways division was profitable, the Southern division with its high passenger services was not. The enthusiasts, and they were pretty passionate about privatisation, did not believe Government had a role to play in public transport or in the provision of goods and services, period. We can blame the folly of privatisation on this section of the public, and I stress it was a big, vocal section. Joh Bjelke Petersen thundered against socialism all his political life. Incidentally, the Railway Freight side is today very profitable, which is why no doubt the reason why the Government is selling it, because there will be plenty of buyers. We can anticipate what will happen. The new owners will suck it dry, work the staff to exhaustion while paying themselves millions in salaries, then turn to the Government and demand that without Government support, the enterprise will collapse and Queensland won't be able to get is coal to the coast etc etc. This is the modus operandi of the modern corporation.

Bert Wills said...

Captain Bligh ran up the pirates flag last week by mentioning that the money from the sale of the Airport may have to be used elsewhere ...... As a sort of "temporary" loan. She made no mention of the fact that the money belongs to the Cairns Ratepayers.

colinwhodares said...

Just returned from the rally by the combined unions in cairns in regards to privatisation outside desley boils office.
The four nonrepresenting members of cairns all voted to sell of this states assests , what happened to looking after your constituents you fools ! And our local fedearal bloke jimmy turncoat will not bag them for it !
As a normally labor leaning voter , it is now my project along with many other disgruntled labor voters to turf all five out !
Good news wendy ,vic ,damien ,joel and anyone else that wants our help .

NotThe Chaser said...

As a Labor voter since high school, this disillusionment doesn't surprise me.
I could see this coming and voted for the Opposition (I think it was Joel)for the first time since then.

What is wrong with the Labor representatives of this region? Stand up - represent what we want - or piss off!

Not The Chaser said...

To clarify - I left high school in the early 70's

colinwhodares said...

It is just a wasted vote ,voting labor or liberal ,they are bound by party lines , not by the voters who elected them ,they say we are with you privately , then they dance to the party tune , time for a change to independants I think !

not amused said...

Ownership and control of economic activity is socialism. Do a little research...go out and ask anyone if they believe in it. Go on. Just ask. See what they reply. People need to be realistic and understand that the public at large have pushed the privatisation agenda. Yeah, I know, I know, some of us may have different that there are things that Government does best, and things that private enterprise does best...but as I said, go out and ask a few people. Privatisation was pushed all the way by public opinion. Our politicians responded to that.
So here we are now, finding all over the bloody world that privatisation has been a huge mistake. So..the public is now "blaming" Governments....

cynical said...

ROFL, not amused. A bit like the Railways....not so long ago, no-one wanted to travel on a rail passenger service...there were empty carriages going up to Ravenshoe every day, while when you looked to the highway running alongside the rail tracks, you often saw long convoys bumper to bumper of cars crawling up the Kuranda range. Sometimes you saw car accidents, with even longer lines of cars stretched out either side of the pile up. The people screamed for the Kuranda range to be widened which it was at an enormmous cost, and today they are still screaming. Meanwhile beside the Kuranda range, on one of the greatest engineering feats in Queensland, there is an underused railwayline. So today we have two groups of people screaming, those who want the Kuranda range road widened again, and those who want a rail service re-introduced. The public of course will once again push this issue. My guess is the Kuranda range road will be widened, yet again due to the larger public support.
You are correct, NotAmused, the public still controls the agenda.

Sir Humphrey said...

Oh good grief they have pissed it up against the wall like every other state "asset" sold in this country.The focus should be on reviewing the media from the time of sale and nailing the "quotes" promising the money will be kept here. Then you have a straightforward lie and you prosecute as such. Dont mince around with these jam tarts "stick the boot in"