The Queensland opposition says the Newman government has fudged the figures to support its asset sales campaign.
Labor says it has found a $28 billion hole in the Newman government’s proposal to pay down Queensland’s debt.
A new website launched by Treasurer Tim Nicholls claims that just over a third of the state’s $80 billion debt would be wiped if the private sector funds infrastructure upgrades for Powerlink, Ergon and Energex in return for a slice of equity.
Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the plan will result in future savings, but it won’t result in a $28 billion chunk of cash to retire debt.
“Clearly that course of action does not lead to the reduction in debt in Queensland,” he said.
“If this is deliberate it’s very concerning, if not, it is simply incompetent.
“This website is fatally flawed, it is misleading and must be removed immediately.”
Mr Nicholls won’t be tweaking the website.
He insists the deal would remove the vast majority of those corporations’ debt and inject private sector funding into the balance sheet.
When asked if the debt could be taken off in one hit, or if the reduction would be over a number of years, Mr Nicholls replied: “The reduction in terms of the impact on the budget is as shown on the website.”
“Exactly how that would occur would be something for after the government’s made a decision (on whether to sell assets).”
The government is spending $6 million on an advertising and information campaign, as it battles unions over its proposal to offload up to $32 billion worth of assets.
Its new interactive website gives Queenslanders the opportunity to give feedback on how to wipe debt, and suggests leasing the Gladstone and Townsville ports and the Mt Isa Rail line could fetch $1.69 billion.
The sale of electricity generators CS Energy and Stanwell, and Ergon’s retail business, would raise $3 billion.
Options people are favouring for reducing the debt include bringing private investment into the electricity network and selling or leasing port facilities, increasing tax on gambling and increasing mining royalties, and cutting sporting and first-home buyer grants, Mr Nicholls said.
“The site has had more than 337,000 page views,” Mr Nicholls said.
“This clearly indicates that despite the unions’ scaremongering and tricky tactics, Queenslanders know we have a real challenge.”
Despite a strong response online, the government couldn’t muster a soul in Charleville for its Town Hall meeting which was due to be held on Tuesday.
While 27 people registered, none confirmed their attendance and the event was scrapped.