THE Bligh Government will undertake a wide-ranging sale of government-owned assets as Queensland continues to bear the brunt of the global economic crisis.
Queensland Motorways Limited; The Port of Brisbane; Forest Plantations Queensland; Queensland Rail’s above and below rail coal business; and the Abbott Point Coal Terminal are all to be sold.
Premier Bligh says the assets will be sold over the next three to five years as the government works through the economic meltdown.
“The need to respond to the biggest economic challenge in decades is very real, very confronting and requires some very tough decisions to be made,” says Bligh.
“Make no mistake — these were the tough choices that had to be made. With a $14 billion hole in our revenues over the next four years, my government was faced with the decision to cut jobs, to half our $17 billion building program or to sell assets. I will make jobs a priority. I will not slash the building program.”
The Premier says the sale of Queensland Rail’s coal assets will maximise the amount of product the state can export. Coal infrastructure assets, which will include train lines and associated infrastructure as well as Queensland Rail trains, would be structured to maximise the efficiency of Queensland’s rail-to-port network.
“Our revitalised and reorganised coal freight system will have the capacity to move more coal to the world providing a greater return in royalties to the people of Queensland,” she says.
“For example a ‘package deal’ could offer the Goonyella through Newlands to Abbot Point rail system with the sale of Abbot Point Coal Terminal. This structure will ensure the objectives of the port and the rail infrastructure providers are better aligned.
“Under this ‘package deal’ the private sector would build the northern missing link infrastructure needed to take this system to the next level saving the tax payer $3.5 billion in future capital expenditure.”
The Abbot Point Coal Terminal sale alone is expected to earn more than $1.9 billion and combined with the associated rail infrastructure it will constitute an attractive package to investors.
The total asset sell-off is expected to deliver estimated proceeds of $15 billion and avoid a further $12 billion in required capital investment over the next five years.
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