Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls says any federal incentive to sell state-owned assets would be welcome and could help the state tackle its debt.
Queensland’s treasurer has welcomed a commonwealth plan to give the states extra federal road funding in exchange for selling state-owned assets.
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering Queensland incentives to privatise electricity generators and ports ahead of a gathering of state treasurers on Friday.
His Queensland counterpart Tim Nicholls welcomed the offer as the state struggles with high levels of debt.
“Anything that the federal government can do to help us both pay down that debt or achieve a pay down of that debt and invest in infrastructure is most welcome,” the state treasurer told ABC radio on Friday.
The federal government is offering to increase funding for jointly funded road projects if the state sold assets within a set time frame.
State treasurers are expected to agree to sell-off recommendations on Friday but they would need to be ratified at the next Council of Australian Governments forum.
Queensland’s LNP government has promised not to proceed with any asset sales before next year’s state election.
But Mr Nicholls has been touring regional Queensland during March, touting privatisation as an alternative to tax rises or reduced services.
If Queensland went ahead with previously flagged privatisation plans, power generators CS Energy and Stanwell would be sold off, and the Townsville and Gladstone ports leased.
The LNP government has previously ruled out selling electricity distributors Ergon, Energex and Powerlink, but it is considering selling equity stakes in these businesses.