A multimillion dollar advertising blitz and online survey was launched by the Newman government on Sunday to step up the public debate over plans to sell some assets.
The Newman government is spending $6 million on its “Strong Choices” campaign as it battles against unions over its proposal to offload up to $32 billion worth of assets.
The television, radio and print ads promotes a new interactive website “People’s Budget”, which will give Queenslanders the opportunity to give feedback on how to wipe up to $30 billion worth of debt.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls says it is an unprecedented level of community consultation, but emphasised it’s not a poll.
Only broad results will be made public after the survey ends on May 19.
“We know that some of those choices are difficult,” Mr Nicholls said.
“But unless we do not make those choices, we will not be able to grasp the future that beckons so tantalisingly over the horizon.”
The online survey details Treasury’s estimates on how much money can be raised through potential asset sales or long-term leases.
The Gladstone and Townsville ports and the Mt Isa Rail line could fetch $1.69 billion.
Just over $3 billion could be earned by selling electricity generators CS Energy and Stanwell, its Meandu mine, and Ergon’s retail business.
Half a billion could be gained from selling the water pipeline which services mines around Mount Isa.
Another $28.4 billion could be made from allowing private investment in Powerlink, Ergon and Energex to pay for infrastructure upgrades in return for a slice of equity.
Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams says the government’s exaggerating state debt to strengthen arguments for asset sales.
“The government continues to use gross debt instead of net debt, it includes debt by government-owned corporations,” Mr Battams told AAP.
“Our net debt is sustainable and comparable with the other states.
“This is just an attempt to sell off assets to the big end of town which supports the government.”
Shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt says the LNP, not taxpayers, should pay for the “scare campaign”.
“From its first day in office, the LNP has been planning asset sales despite saying before the election it had an economic plan that did not rely on asset sales,” he said.