Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls has urged government MPs, to back his plan for long-term leases, on port and power assets.
He says the plan is necessary, to fix an $80 billion debt problem.
Joseph Cooney reports.
The LNP’s new plan is seen as a compromise after voters expressed initial concern.
That didn’t appease dissenting voices as ministers arrived for the crucial meeting.
MPs were keen to appease the public by stressing they’re not selling assets.
Steve Dickson, National Parks Minister: “We don’t want to sell assets, and we’re not selling assets. We are going to lease assets.”
David Crisafulli, Local Government Minister: “The whole campaign has been based on being not for sale, and if we go with the long-term lease then they’re in luck, it’s not for sale.”
But that’s not what Tim Nicholls said while in opposition.
Speaking in parliament on privatisation Mr Nicholls said: “A ninety-nine-year lease is as good as giving away the farm, which is what is occurring here.”
The opposition leader was keen to remind the treasurer of his previous admission.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Labor Leader: “There is no difference, a lease is an asset sale, pure and simple.”
The government says any leasing contract will include strict conditions on power prices and supply.
Regardless, the Opposition says Queenslanders will feel the pinch in their hip pocket.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Labor Leader: “Today every LNP member is voting for higher electricity prices and job losses.”
Union protesters are equally pessimistic.
Ros McLennan, Qld Council of Unions: “Once you sell our public assets, or lease them for 99 years, you never get them back.”
Peter Simpson, Electrical Trades Union: “Privatisation does not benefit consumers, doesn’t make prices lower, doesn’t help employees retain a job.”
Ahead of next year’s state election, it’s an issue that won’t go away.
Ros McLennan, Qld Council of Unions: “We’re coming for this government, and we’re coming for them hard. If they won’t listen to Queenslanders now, they’ll listen come the state election.”
Joseph Cooney, QUT News.