Queenslanders won’t know how the state government’s proposed cost of living fund will be spent or conditions on long-term asset leases until election time.
Queenslanders will only learn the full details of the state government’s asset leasing plan after they’ve voted for it.
The Liberal National Party government says if re-elected it will lease public port and power assets for half a century in return for $37 billion.
Most of that money will be used to retire debt, but the government is also promising to spend $8.6 billion on infrastructure and $3.4 billion on a fund to cut cost of living.
Premier Campbell Newman won’t say how the cost of living fund will be spent, but he let slip that it could be on a single public policy issue.
“This fund will allow us to solve some very big, one big or very big, public policy issues (sic),” he told a packed business luncheon in Brisbane.
“If we get this right and we explain it, I think people in this room will all be giving it the thumbs up.”
Meanwhile Treasurer Tim Nicholls said terms and conditions on the asset leases wouldn’t be made public until after the government was re-elected.
“We can’t set those conditions until we conduct those negotiations and we’ll be doing that once we receive a mandate,” Mr Nicholls told reporters.
The treasurer also warned it could take up to five years for the state to receive the full $37 billion.
“We will spend the money as it becomes available,” Mr Nicholls added.
Shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt said the government was withholding details of the “asset sales” plan and was on course to rack up huge amounts of debt.
“We were told this week that this was the final plan, and yet we’re still being drip-fed information,” he said.
“We also hear that the proceeds of asset sales may not come through for five years, in the meantime, what will the government be doing – if they want to deliver anything from their pork-barrelling $8.6 billion, or their $3.4 billion slush fund, clearly they will be borrowing to do so.”
When asked if the government would consider a huge swing against the LNP as mandate for asset leases, Mr Nicholls said he wouldn’t get into “what might happen at the election”.