Pitt: Newman Government would sell assets at its own peril

QUEENSLAND Opposition Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the State Government is relying on its "oversized" backbench to act as "cannon-fodder" if it seeks a mandate at the next State Election to sell-off Queensland assets.

Earlier this week, Premier Campbell Newman gave a strong indication the State Government was considering selling-off state-owned companies in a bid to reduce the state's debt.

"Energex, Ergon and Powerlink, despite what you are hearing from the unions, are not for sale," he said.

"We will not betray the people of Queensland, like the other mob did by the way, by selling assets without a mandate.

"But we have made it clear, in our response to the commission of audit, that there is the potential to look at some other key parts of Queensland's asset portfolio."

Mr Newman, during his speech to more than 1000 business and civic leaders on Tuesday, reaffirmed his position in relation to potential asset sales.

"We will not head down that path, I stress, until we are satisfied that is what Queenslanders want us to do," he said.
"That is, giving them the opportunity to have their say about our plans and programs at the ballot box."

Mr Pitt seized the opportunity today warning the LNP Government heading down the path of asset sales was "at their own peril."

"He gave the best indication yet that this government is going to go hell-for-leather down the track of selling assets in Queensland," he said.

"We know in the Labor party that asset sales are not welcomed by Queenslanders.

"We know they do not want their publicly-owned assets sold."

Mr Pitt said the State Government had sold almost $4 billion worth of state assets since winning office, but could not elaborate what they were when asked.

"Campbell Newman can say what he wants right now, but ultimately he has broken the promise he gave to Queenslanders before the last election," he said.

"You can not seek a mandate to sell assets if there is nothing left to sell.

"Included in that $4 billion is the recent Aurizon sell down, but most importantly the sale of seven CBD office buildings for more than $560 million."

However, Mr Pitt's comments were a far cry from his position in a statement to constituents where he threw his support behind the former government's $15 billion asset sales program in 2009.

"These assets are only a small proportion of more than $200 billion in assets the state owns and generated less than one per cent of the state's income last financial year," the statement on his website said.

"It is a well known fact that the private sector buy business to grow them, not shrink them."