Stop begging, Queensland

Rebecca Weisser

16 December 2016 | Ideas@TheCentre
RW begging 1Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had her begging bowl out at COAG last week, panhandling for billions from federal taxpayers to kickstart the Queensland economy.
Palaszczuk’s pockets are empty because she ruled out asset sales at the last state election.
Queensland’s LNP government wanted to raise $37 billion through the lease of assets to pay down $25 billion of state debt and finance roads, hospitals, schools and public transport. Instead, Palaszczuk promised to hold onto assets and cross her fingers that 32,000 new jobs would somehow materialise.
Unfortunately, employment growth has been dismal except in the public service, where 6,600 full-time equivalent staff were added in the last six months –, a further burden to state debt already projected to peak at $77 billion. That gives Queensland the dubious honour of the highest debt to GSP ratio in Australia, even after Treasurer Curtis Pitt dumped billions of dollars of debt on government-owned corporations and raided the state’s superannuation funds.
Compare this with NSW, where the Baird government will raise more than $30 billion from the lease of its poles and wires. It is now debt free and investing the funds in its $20 billion Rebuilding NSW plan. WA’s Liberal Government has also seen the light and is selling Western Power to generate $11 billion. Even Victoria’s Labor government is leasing the Port of Melbourne to raise $9.7 billion.
Perhaps if Palaszczuk were not so busy discouraging investment by introducing legislation to ban 100 percent fly-in, fly-out mines, restore objection rights, create chain of environmental responsibility laws, and funding nearly a dozen green groups to oppose the Adani coal mine, the private sector could generate jobs without taxpayers being forced to put state spending on the national credit card.  Luckily, despite the best efforts of activists, the $21 billion Carmichael mine should go ahead — and Palaszczuk should stop begging.


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