The Queensland Government is selling off the following assets:
- Forestry Plantations Queensland
- Port of Brisbane
- Queensland Motorways Limited
- Abbot Point Coal Terminal, near Bowen
- Queensland Rail’s coal transport business and assets, also looking at other commercial parts of QR
They've blamed the sale on the "worst global recession in 70 years" which the Bligh Government say has reduced Queensland’s income by $15 billion over four years. However the debt situation had nothing to do with the so-called recession. The $74 billion Queensland is in debt, is more than all the other States put together.
Here's Opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek open letter to Bligh:
- "When readers opened the newspaper yesterday to find Premier Anna Bligh's personal explanation of why the State Government is about to sell-off Queensland's assets, they had every right to ask why she failed to put pen to paper, only eight months ago, to outline her case for privatisation ahead of the state election.
After all, it was known then that Queensland had lost its cherished AAA credit rating; it was known then that Queensland was in record debt; and it was known then that our economic bottom line had been hit by a downturn, coupled with the Government's failure to bank money in the boom times to help get through the tough times.
But the Government assured Queenslanders its policies were all fully costed with not so much as a hint that assets would go in a fire-sale. The Premier claims she has to make tough decisions. But leadership isn't about being tough; it's about being tough and honest. Privatisation in Queensland isn't just an economic debate. It is also a truth debate and the two issues cannot be separated.
Taxpayers own these assets and are therefore the shareholders. In any model business, a board and its chairperson who offer themselves for re-election, in this case the Government and the Premier, have a corporate duty to provide shareholders upfront with honest financial data and honest financial plans before any ballot. Before more privatisation, sound economic debate surely demands frank analysis of the consequences of recent State Government decisions to privatise other assets.
The Premier points to a decision, 17 years ago, by the federal government to sell Qantas as a model for privatisation.
She does not point to the more appropriate comparison that would be how the State Government privatised the retail arms of Energex and Ergon in 2006, overseen by Bligh while she was Treasurer, and the consequent skyrocketing electricity bills.
No one argues that Queensland has a real problem with debt; it's a problem compounded by the loss of the AAA credit rating.
Budget projections show the Government does not plan to stop borrowing until at least 2017. By that date, even with asset fire-sales, Queensland's public debt will be more than $100 billion; approaching 50 per cent of Queensland's gross domestic product. Management of this debt is Queensland's greatest economic challenge. That debt took eight years to accrue, but in reasonable terms, even if we started today, it would take about 35 years to pay it all off.
That is the legacy this Government has left children from the boom years. If we sell the five assets Bligh has identified, and sell them at market bottom prices as proposed, the expected return is about $15 billion. However, those five assets currently return a solid income stream through tax-equivalent payments, dividends and commercial interest rates above the borrowing rate of Queensland Treasury Corporation.
Should we not be harnessing those assets, rather than throwing them away, to help pay off Labor's debt? The issue is not one of privatisation; it is one of debt. The fact is, the sale of these assets will not solve Queensland's debt problem.
Now this letter will interest you. Here's a letter from Premier Anna Bligh, sent just before the last State election to the Hermit Park Branch from the Labor Party.
What part of "no intention to privatise" did she not mean? And you wonder why her own Party is standing up to these lies.