Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) Queensland Director Jemina Dunn has welcomed the release of the Queensland’s Government Strong Choices Plan, saying it was a further step in the important dialogue with Queenslanders around privatisation.
According to Dunn, evaluation of proposals for selling or leasing publicly-owned assets that can be operated more efficiently by the private sector will come down to whether the taxpayer gets a good price in the sale process; whether appropriate safeguards for consumers and businesses in the regulatory arrangements will apply to the sold assets; and whether the funds will be used wisely.
“The alternative of raising taxes including payroll tax to pay down debt is not supported by Ai Group. This would have significant and counterproductive impacts on business competitiveness and the broader Queensland economy and community,” Ms Dunn said in media release.
“Queensland business and industry will however be keen for clarity on how asset lease proceeds will be spent. In this regard we Plan closely in coming days.”
Queensland’s productivity and competitiveness has been under significant pressure for some time, with confidence still very fragile and growth sluggish. For this reason it is particularly critical that the proceeds of any asset sales or leases are put towards paying down debt or investing in a pipeline of rigorously assessed productivity-boosting infrastructure projects.
“Government needs to be careful any revenue from privatisation is not frittered away on projects that do not contribute to long term productivity gains. Projects that not only result in jobs during construction, but also deliver sustained benefit to the economy through for example, easing congestion or reducing the cost of doing business in Queensland in the long run, will give us the best bang for buck,” said Ms Dunn.
“Infrastructure is a key priority for industry with a recent Ai Group survey reporting that 73% of Queensland businesses identified it as one of their top three priorities.”