Assett sales set to cost hundreds of regional jobs
HUNDREDS of regional jobs will be lost if the Queensland Government sells off its electricity and port assets, according to experts and unions.
In its immediate response to the final report from the Commission of Audit, chaired by former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the sale of the Port of Gladstone and electricity assets would help unlock funds needed elsewhere.
This would almost certainly include shutting down up to 30 regional depots run by Ergon and Energex, each employing between nine and 15 workers for a total loss of at least 270 workers.
The report found it would also set Queensland on course for a stronger credit rating.
But with most of the infrastructure itself existing beyond metropolitan areas, it would be regional workers who would face the knives of the private sector.
University of Queensland economics professor John Quiggin said that in return for job losses, voters could also expect power prices to increase.
He said job losses were almost guaranteed when the market took hold of government-owned corporations.
"That's normally the main way in which private owners try to increase the profitability of the assets," he said.
"It's a pretty predictable consequence."
Prof Quiggin also suggested any claim by the state that this report was independent was nonsense.
He said it was a "routine step" for both LNP and Labor governments to have a Commission of Audit and each "absolutely" knew the outcome before the process began.
Electrical Trades Union state organiser Trevor Gauld said the government's own Independent Review Panel suggested replacing Ergon and Energex depots with fewer than 15 workers with a single contractor.
"Regional areas are going to suffer the most here," he said.
"The politicians just don't care."
THE LITTLE GUY
UP to 30 regional Energex and Ergon depots each with between nine and 15 workers throughout Queensland would almost certainly be shut down if the companies were privatised, according to the ETU.
- Gin Gin