What Gladstone candidates think about asset leases

CANDIDATES for the seat of Gladstone have outlined their stance on asset sales, in the lead-up to the state election on Saturday.

This is the first in a series of 'big question' issues we'll be featuring.

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Glenn Butcher, ALP

THE overwhelming issue within the Gladstone electorate and across Queensland is the sale of our public assets to fund Campbell Newman's unfunded promises in the South-East.

The role of the port has been to facilitate economic growth throughout the region and support industry.

If the port is privatised, the role will change to simply making the most profit for whichever company purchases it.

The port has reinvested strongly back into the Gladstone community.

Not only will the Gladstone Yacht Club be at risk under a privatised port, but our world-class foreshore park

lands, the marina complex, our many local sporting grounds and even local church support will all be at risk.

Newman has provided no answers as to whether a company purely focused on profit will continue this local investment.

Despite contributing $8.4 billion to the Queensland economy last year we receive miniscule funding from the State Government's flawed Royalties for Regions program. If the port is gone who will support the community and local jobs?

The port is forecast to make over $460m in revenue for the Queensland Government over the next four years.

It makes no sense to sell the port and jeopardise local jobs for a once-off sugar hit.

Only Labor has a plan to save our assets and keep investment and jobs in regional communities. Don't trust the LNP with our assets.

Craig Butler, Independent

I AM totally opposed to the sale/lease of strategic government-owned assets such as the Port of Gladstone and the land set aside for a high school at Calliope.

The Port of Gladstone is an asset with a growing revenue stream for years to come.

In the 2013/2014 financial year throughput increased by 14.5%.

Wiggins Is coal terminal exports and LNG exports are coming on stream in the near future which will lead to increased throughput and profit from the port.

It is short-term thinking to sell assets that are capable of delivering long-term profitability to our state. Our port is one such asset.

The container terminal will experience rapid growth in the near future which will deliver increased profits to the port owners.

I say this because southern container ports are reaching capacity and some 40% of containers that exit through the Port of Brisbane originate from north of Gladstone.

Our port is the logical destination for the export of such containers.

Governments over the past 20 years have invested hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing land for the Gladstone State Development Area.

This land will develop with industry as time goes on leading to further increased tonnage through our port.

We can all remember the disastrous sale of QR by the former Bligh Government after stating prior to the election there would be no sale of assets and now the LNP want to sell other valuable state assets.

Michael Duggan, LNP

THE LNP is seeking a mandate on January 31 from the people of Queensland for the leasing of some state assets.

The Strong Choices Plan is a disciplined and methodical action plan to lower Queensland's unprecedented $80 billion debt to sustainable levels and reduce interest payments paid by the taxpayer which total $4billion annually or $450,000 per hour.

There are no easy choices to reduce debt and the majority of Queenslanders do not support increased taxes or reduced services.

Leasing assets means Queenslanders retain ownership of assets like the Gladstone port and the government retains the power to determine and enforce lease conditions.

I can assure the people of the Gladstone region that should we get that mandate at the election, the government will put into place strict lease conditions, including community obligations protecting public areas and services important to the Gladstone region.

I have a very clear understanding of the importance to the community of organisations like the Port Curtis Sailing Club, services like Volunteer Marine Rescue and places like Spinnaker Park and our marina.

I have already discussed these special places with the Treasurer and have secured a commitment from the government that these places will be preserved through a strong lease arrangement that will set out conditions on maintenance, investment to meet growing needs throughout the state, expansion, the meeting of safety requirements and land access requirements, so that the rights of people are preserved and protected through the agreement.

Craig Tomsett, Greens

THIS community opposes any changes to the ownership of the Gladstone Ports Corporation.

As The Queensland Greens candidate for Gladstone I will never agree to sell any asset which continues to provide a profit, a source of employment and benefits the local community, like the GPCL's maintenance of the Gladstone Marina and CQUniversity Campus.

The LNP are determined to lease our port, once again ignoring our community's wishes.

Still, we must not forget it was Labor who, against local community sentiment, privatised Queensland Rail ahead of the greatest productivity increase in the movement of coal to Queensland's ports.

This short-sighted attitude by Labor cost jobs and the loss of vital infrastructure paid for by Queensland taxpayers as well as the loss of billions of dollars of forward revenue.

Both LNP and ALP have failed to be fiscally responsible. If we provide billions of dollars from selling or leasing assets we can only expect that they will blow through the money and incur more debt, inevitably leading to further reduction in social services, community programs, a lack of infrastructure and a rise in youth unemployment.

The Queensland Greens are the only party who will always vote to retain public assets in public hands.