Queensland’s treasurer says privatising assets will create jobs but the opposition disagrees, after a report showing the state’s high jobless rate.
The Queensland government says its privatisation plans will help address the state’s high unemployment but the opposition says it will only result in more job cuts.
Queensland’s job performance was ranked second worst, ahead of the ACT, in CommSec’s quarterly State of the States report.
The report, made public on Monday, shows the state’s jobless rate is sitting at 6.4 per cent, up almost 27 per cent on the decade-average rate.
Shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt said this far exceeds Premier Campbell Newman’s promise of four per cent unemployment.
He said around 61,000 Queenslanders are out of work while the government “buries its head in the sand” by privatising assets.
“The LNP’s only plan is asset sales and that means more job cuts and a revenue black hole of at least $2 billion a year which will cause long-term structural damage to the Queensland budget’s bottom line,” he said.
The government recently announced it will lease two ports, water pipelines, two electricity generators and three power distribution firms for at least 50 years if it wins the next election.
It has denied these long-term leases effectively constitute a sale of these assets.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said plans to lease assets to raise money for schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure is a sound plan that will boost the economy and create jobs.
“The government’s Strong Choices plan is investing in job-creating infrastructure,” he told ABC Radio on Monday.
“We’ve acknowledged we’ve to do some more work in respect of that but we also see confidence returning in the construction industry in the report, so all in all it’s pretty positive.”
The report acknowledged strong non-residential building activity and business investment in Queensland but said the soft job market and relative underperformance on population growth were weighing it down.