Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says Queenslanders will have to choose between tax hikes or selling state assets to pay state costs.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has again raised the idea of asset sales to help pay off the state’s $80 billion debt.
The premier told Liberal National Party (LNP) members at the party’s state council meeting in Toowoomba on Saturday that interest repayments cost $450,000 an hour.
In his speech Mr Newman said selling assets could help reign in the debt which he referred to as “this big, black cloud that hangs over Queensland”.
“What we want to do this year is have a conversation with Queenslanders,” he said.
“We are not saying that these assets have to go, that is not the conversation. We’re saying we want to talk to Queenslanders in a grown up way about this challenge.”
Mr Newman said funds from state asset sales could be put toward community centres, libraries, roads, hospitals and schools.
The alternative was to put up fees, charges and taxes, he said.
Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Newman Government was determined to forge ahead with asset sales regardless of what Queenslanders think.
“Queenslanders put their trust in Campbell Newman and Mr Nicholls. But the fact is they’ve cut too hard, too fast, and our economy has been slowed as a result,” Mr Pitt said.
Scoping studies into the sale of power generators CS Energy and Stanwell and the lease of Townsville and Gladstone ports are due late February or early March.
The government says it would not proceed with any sale without a mandate.
Meanwhile, the LNP representatives at their Saturday meeting voted in favour of forwarding a number of policy’s to the LNP government, including extending the term of government to four years.
Mr Newman told those at the meeting that it will need bipartisan support to go to next stage.
The meeting also voted in favour of scrapping the Queensland Core Skills test in 2014 and freezing land rental on leasehold land while a review to overhaul the system is undertaken.
The meeting continues on Sunday.