Newman to seek mandate to sell-off state assets

IT would seem the worst kept secret in Queensland could be finally out of the bag.

All indicators are pointing to the State Government preparing itself to seek a mandate at next year's election to sell of state assets.

The State Government is looking to offload a suite of assets including CS Energy, Stanwell Corporation and the Mount Isa to Townsville freight rail line as well as offering long-term leases on the Ports of Gladstone and Townsville in a bid to reduce the state's debt.

Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls said on Monday he would announce the government's decision surrounding its proposed asset sales agenda next week.

He said the results from the taxpayer-funded Strong Choices campaign were still being collated and no decision had been made either way, but said cuts announced in the federal budget made it tougher for the state in terms of options surrounding tax increases or cuts to services.

"Most people would understand increasing fees taxes and charges is never something people like doing," he said.

"In terms of reducing services, again, it is something that in a growing state would prove difficult to do.

"That is part of the challenge we face and that is why we called it the Strong Choices campaign.

"But it certainly would seem to be the case that the strongest choice will also be the smartest choice in terms of ensuring we can continue to deliver services and continue to do it at a price Queenslanders can afford to pay."

Mr Nicholls denied the State Government had already made up its mind over asset sales before the Strong Choices campaign was launched.

If Cabinet was to approve an asset sales agenda when they meet next Monday, it will give Mr Nicholls less than 24 hours to prepare his third budget before delivering it the following day.

"We are still working through it and of course it requires final Cabinet sign-off and sign-off by my colleagues," he said.

"I will be taking our position to my colleagues for their consideration.

"We will make the announcement next Tuesday as part of the state budget."

Premier Campbell Newman, who was in Cooktown on Monday, would not be drawn into discussing asset sales or the state budget.

He said he would leave that up to the Treasurer "who loves to talk to the media."

"As to what the Budget contains, you will just have to wait and see," he said.

"Or again, try and talk to the Treasurer."


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