Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls has handed down his third and final budget which reveals he wants to take $33.6b worth of asset sales to the next election.
More than 11 per cent of Queensland’s assets would be sold or leased if the Newman government wins the next election.
To help gain public support, the $33.6 billion privatisation agenda would pay for $8.6 billion worth of sweeteners over six year.
In a draft document, handed down separately from Tuesday’s budget, Treasurer Tim Nicholls finally revealed the government would offload all assets it originally earmarked six months ago.
Electricity generators CS Energy and Stanwell will be sold, as well as Ergon’s retail business.
The industrial pipelines of Sunwater will be offloaded, and long-term leases offered for the Gladstone and Townsville ports, including the Mount Isa rail line.
Private investment will also be allowed in power distributors, Energex, Ergon and Powerlink, in exchange for a share of future profits.
Three quarters of the money raised, $25 billion, will pay down debt to $55 billion, a level it’s hoped will return the state’s triple A credit.
It’s the third and final Liberal National Party budget handed down before the 2015 election.
With the Newman government on track to lose more than 20 seats in the 89-seat parliament, election carrots were needed after axe-wielding and no-frills budgets.
To drive the message home, a $5.2 million advertising campaign will spruik the massive infrastructure spend, which would support 25,000 jobs.
A billion dollars would be put aside for the Brisbane underground, a five-kilometre bus and train tunnel that goes under the Brisbane River.
Another $3 billion would be spent on roads and a billion on new schools, with up to 48 needed by 2021.
The treasurer is also banking on an extra billion in incentives from the federal government for the sales, which would be funnelled into additional infrastructure projects.
Mr Nicholls is ready for some public backlash.
“But at least Queenslanders now know we will have funding certainty into the future, so we can invest in things we need for a growing and ageing population,” he said.
The asset sales are worth twice the amount than those sprung on the public by Labor in 2009.
Having learnt from its mistakes, shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt would prefer to grow the economy to pay down debt.
“This government is all about a plan they had from the start to sell assets, not a plan to create a stronger community in Queensland,” he said.
Disregarding asset sales, the 2014/15 budget papers had no big headlines.
There were no tax hikes or service cuts, but it was confirmed the state wouldn’t be stepping in to protect pensioners from federal reductions.
About $223 million will be ripped out of public transport, rates and electricity concessions over four years.
Both health and education have scored state funding increases of six and seven per cent respectively, but will also be affected by federal budget cuts.
The government’s final decision on asset sales will be made in September.