Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls has handed down his third and final budget which reveals he wants to take $33.6b worth of asset sales to the next election.
Assets worth $33.6 billion will be sold or leased if the Newman government wins next year’s election, with a quarter of the proceeds going towards state building projects.
Six months after initiating scoping studies to gauge investor appetite, Treasurer Tim Nicholls has finally revealed that all assets originally earmarked for sale or lease will go.
The asset sales document, handed down separate to Tuesday’s budget, is a draft report and a final decision will be made in September.
Electricity generators CS Energy and Stanwell would be offloaded, and Ergon’s retail business would also be offered to sweeten the deal.
The industrial pipelines of Sunwater would be sold, and long-term leases would be offered for the Gladstone and Townsville ports, including the Mount Isa rail line.
About $29 billion could be raised by private investment in electricity distributors Ergon, Energex and Powerlink.
Investors will be offered a share of revenue if they undertake $9.8 billion of infrastructure upgrades.
There was no final figure on how much revenue Queenslanders will miss out on if assets are sold, but Mr Nicholls says its impact on the fiscal balance is expected to be minimal.
“But it will really free up a lot more opportunities to invest in the future,” he said.
Three-quarters of the money raised would reduce state debt by $25 billion, taking it to $55 billion.
The rest, totalling $8.6 billion, would fund infrastructure projects over six years.
A billion dollars would be put aside for the Brisbane underground, a five-kilometre bus and train tunnel that goes under the Brisbane River.
Another $3 billion would be spent on roads and one billion dollars on new schools, with up to 48 needed by 2021.
Half-a-billion dollars would be set aside for future natural disasters
The asset sales document detailed public responses to the “Strong Choices” survey, which found 46 per cent of the 55,000 respondents favoured asset sales and 46 per cent preferred tax hikes and reduced services.
To further win over the public, another advertising blitz will be launched, at the cost of $5.2 million.
Mr Nicholls said there would be a strong appetite to buy the state’s assets.
“Not everyone will agree with all of the choices this government has made about how to pay for things into the future,” he said.
“But at least Queenslanders now know we will have funding certainty into the future, so we can invest in things we need for a growing and ageing population.”