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Tourism lobby group wants to flog off Qld electricity assets

October 18, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59In a big jump from its usual tourism and transport lobbying role, a major tourism industry group is pushing for the sale of Queensland’s state electricity assets.

The reason, according to Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) chief executive Ken Morrison, is that Queensland could use some of the windfall to support the tourism industry.

Selling off government and state utilities to the highest bidder to raise funds is a not a new tactic. Such moves are usually unpopular with voters, being compared to selling the family silver. Rembrandt - www.rembrandtbkk

Morrison says privatising Queensland’s electricity assets would deliver a windfall for the state to invest in “critical transport infrastructure projects and support the state’s tourism industry”.

The TCF statement followed the release of Queensland’s Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s Powering Queensland report, which estimates that the full privatisation of Queensland’s publicly-owned electricity businesses would have a bottom-line benefit  on state finances of between AUD 40 billion and AUD 48 billion.

“This plan would give Queensland the ability to fund the projects to drive the state’s economy, particularly the visitor economy,” Morrison said.

“Without this, the state has limited capacity to invest in critical projects like Cross River Rail and flood-proofing the Bruce Highway. Cross River Rail is a transformative project that would allow for additional rail capacity to the entire South-East Queensland region, while the Bruce Highway is a crucial link from Brisbane to Cairns and major centres in between.

“Queenslanders have a choice to make as to whether they want to improve the mobility and liveability of their state.

“Queensland is a growth state and this plan would give the government the capacity to invest in the infrastructure needed to further fuel that growth.

“The sale would take the pressure off the state budget, allowing the Queensland Government to devote additional funding to the state’s tourism industry, which provides employment to more than 220,000 Queenslanders.

“Holding the electricity assets in state hands has resulted in power price increases for Queensland tourism operators that are double those in Victoria.”

If the sale goes ahead, however, one question remains: What will future governments do to raise money, once the option of flogging off state assets has disappeared?

Written by : Peter Needham

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