LNP party room thrashes out Costello audit report
QUEENSLANDERS will soon learn if the government will opt to sell off state-owned assets and outsource services following a complex party room debate on the Commission of Audit.
The audit is due to be tabled in State Parliament on Tuesday alongside the Newman government's response to the recommendations, including selling assets, outsourcing services and privatisation.
The executive summary, released earlier this year, outlined the need for some unpopular decisions to curb Queensland's debt.
On his way into the party room meeting at Parliament House on Monday, Premier Campbell Newman explained he was not concerned about his future.
"Whether I am here in the future or not does not concern me," he said.
"What concerns me is that there is a LNP Government that continues in the next term."
Mr Newman said Monday's party room meeting was a time for all MPs to engage in debate and have their say.
But Mr Newman reiterated his opposition to asset sales.
"You have heard what I have had to say for a long period of time about certain monopoly assets - my position hasn't changed," he said.
"For example, Energex is something that I believe could only be sold as a last resort.
"It is something that ideally stays in public hands and I have had that position for a long, long period of time - well before I went into politics."
Mr Newman said he would not take any recommendation forward unless it had a very strong unified level of support from everybody in the LNP.
Cabinet met last week to discuss its recommendations following on from the Commission of Audit and it was further debated in the party room on Monday.
The Commission of Audit author, former federal treasurer Peter Costello, said the alternatives to asset sales were increasing taxes or cutting services.
"I am saying to get back to AAA credit rating you have to have a big pay-off of debt," he said on his way to the party room meeting.
"The other alternatives are massive tax hikes or massive service cuts.
"That is what this government has been left with. They have been left with a big financial hole and if you want to fill it, if you want to retire debt, you can either increase taxes massively, cut services very significantly or do something to retire debt."
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said there needed to be a debate on asset sales in light of the audit's recommendations and the state's finances.
"I have got a real appreciation of what the Premier's concerns are - I share some of those concerns," he said.
"But we will have that debate in the party room and make that decision as we should with everyone's input."
Queensland Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the government would try to sell anything that wasn't tied down.
He said Queenslanders had already spoken very "loudly and clearly" about their thoughts on asset sales under Labor.
"These things do belong to the people of Queensland, the Labor Party learned that the hard way," he said.