Queensland Premier Campbell Newman
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman john mccutcheon

Union says govt plan for Gladstone is 'sale by stealth'

THE Port of Gladstone will be leased for up to 99 years under the Queensland Government's debt reduction plan.

The final Strong Choices plan, which the LNP will take to the election next year, involves leasing the port as well, as electricity generation companies and transmission companies, to private operators.

Premier Campbell Newman said the government would get $37 billion for the plan.

He said $25 billion would reduce government debt; $8.6 billion will go towards infrastructure projects and $3.4 billion would be used in a new "cost-of-living" fund.

Mr Newman did not reveal the details of the new fund.

LNP MPs unanimously supported the plan, which has "No Asset Sales" emblazoned on the front cover, during a party meeting yesterday.

The leases will be for 50 years with an option to be extended for a further 49 years should the private operators meet conditions Premier Campbell Newman described as "strict."

Describing the moment as "momentous and historic", Mr Newman said conditions would be placed on the operators leasing the ports and electricity assets.

"There will be strict conditions imposed on the people who take out these leases. So there will be conditions for example on the operations of the ports to ensure fair, reasonable access for people who need to access those ports," he said.

Maritime Union of Australia Queensland branch secretary Mick Carr said a lease was "a sale by stealth" and the Gladstone residents would lose out.

"We're totally opposed to this," he said. "We've seen with other port privatisations, like the port of Brisbane, that port fees have gone through the roof.

"That will happen in Gladstone. They're only going to lease it to turn a profit. The local people of Gladstone will not gain from this."

Mr Newman said the process could "potentially create up to 25,000 jobs."

He said the tariff ensuring the regional customers paid the same prices as metropolitan customers would remain.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the leases would come with strict conditions and could be cancelled if there was a "major breach."

- APN NEWSDESK



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