Professor John Rolfe from CQUniversity
Professor John Rolfe from CQUniversity Chris Ison

'It’s tragic that resource-rich Qld doesn't have AAA rating'

BROAD reforms and assets sales have prompted fury from Queensland's unions, warning it could spell disaster for parts of regional Queensland.

However, a Rockhampton boffin has cautiously backed the plans.

CQUniversity Professor John Rolfe said job losses were necessary and likely as the government pushed its plan to repair Queensland's dented economy.

He said as the government considered outsourcing who maintains tracks owned by Queensland Rail across the state, it would be "very difficult" to know how workers would be affected.

The state plans to "test the contestability" of assets - that is, the government tries to pique market desire for a service or asset as a way of benchmarking its performance.

If acted on, a private company may opt to run the maintenance from a centralised hub, whether in Townsville or Brisbane, removing that work from the regions themselves.

"From an economics perspective, making them more contestable will lead to more efficiency and by efficiency, some trimming of the workforce," Prof Rolfe said.

The potential loss of jobs has angered a suite of unions, including those representing teachers, transport workers, electrical tradespeople and public servants.

Each forecast a fierce campaign against the government's slated privatisation schemes, warning that regional workers were likely to face the axe.

This could be a price worth paying, according to the professor, if taxpayers were to avoid coughing up for the coffers.

"I'm very supportive," he said.

"It's tragic that a resource-rich state like Queensland, which has been almost in the middle of a resources boom for a decade now does not have a AAA (credit) rating.

"I think the Queensland Government is doing the right thing by looking at spending and efficiency rather than looking at getting out of trouble by expanding the revenue."


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