Shipping revenue back to the state

Written on the 17 June 2009

THE Port of Brisbane shipping terminal will be sold.
Premier Anna Bligh and the Treasurer Andrew Fraser believe the port at Fisherman’s Island and its major land holdings earmarked for development, presents an attractive return to Queensland taxpayers.
“None of these assets are linked to public services that people rely on governments to deliver,” says Bligh.

“However, they can be used to pay for the infrastructure and services Queensland’s economy needs to grow and develop. Queensland is fortunate enough to have a massive portfolio of assets still under government ownership.
“The overwhelming majority of those assets will remain in public hands, but some can be sold to deliver an enormous benefit to taxpayers. In return, we will see first-class projects being rolled out around south-east Queensland such as three tertiary hospitals, the Airport Link, the Gateway Bridge duplication and new TAFE colleges.”

The Port of Brisbane Corporation (PBC) is a government-owned corporation with total net assets worth $2.4 billion. PBC’s other asset, the Port of Bundaberg, will be transferred to the Gladstone Ports Corporation where it will continue to operate as a government-owned asset.
The sale of the Port of Brisbane and property around the port, Eagle
Farm and Hamilton is expected to raise around $3.5 billion.

“The port is a vital cog in Queensland’s economic machine, providing the main doorway for all manner of commodities from timber and metal to foods and oil,” says Bligh.
“More than 30 million tonnes of commodities pass through the port every year.

“It will be an extremely attractive asset for the private sector and its sale will ensure Queensland comes out of the global financial crisis in a stronger position then when it hit us.
“Public assets have come and gone throughout Queensland’s history and ports are no different. Many assets have been sold by governments across Australia of different political persuasions because it’s been in taxpayers’ interest. This sale is no different.

“The global financial crisis that has swept through every developed country was not of our making, but it’s knocked a $14 billion hole through Queensland’s revenue.”
Treasurer Andrew Fraser says the private sector had long argued that assets such as coal terminals could be run better in commercial hands which would expand the state economy.
“Queenslanders want governments to run schools, hospitals and the police service,” he concedes.

“If a piece of economic infrastructure presents a good return to the taxpayer for vital public services, we should proceed with a sale. It’s the responsible thing to do. This sale will help bring a more outwardly focused state economy that will promote nation building.”

A taskforce will now be set up to determine the marketing of the asset, expected to start next year.


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