Thursday 17 October, 2013
Katter: Govt should build energy assets not sell them off
The Queensland government should be focused on building strategy energy assets, not selling them, said Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter.
Sale of public assets is an irresistible stimulant for governments hell bent on achieving fiscal balance without having regard to the impact it will have on the broader economy.
But the unquantifiable cost of selling off our electricity assets is the loss of control over a critical piece of industry-creating infrastructure.
A sell off means the government no longer has control of the price, supply and development of a critical line of infrastructure, Mr Katter said.
The Transmission Line proposal for North West Queensland was a perfect example, he said.
This project could see industry flourish in the region and in the long run could be a strong commercial proposition.
In the short term it lacks initial users and therefore requires Government to lead the development.
This leadership role will never be undertaken by private industry so if our transmission lines were sold we would never expect the transmission line to be built.
If we applied this same approach throughout Australias history we wouldnt have a coal industry in Queensland nor the great Snowy Mountain Scheme.
Selling off these assets that our parents and grandparents paid for means giving some foreign- owned company the right to tax the householder as much as they want forever.
It then becomes a profit driven entity instead of an asset strategically used to facilitate industry development.
There is also a false promise that these assets magically perform better under private ownership.
This may be true in some cases but cost savings are not always passed on to the household consumers.
Our electricity assets are not just a budget line item in spite of successive Labor and Liberal governments treating them this way.
Driven by Treasury they have all worshipped at the temple of privatisation for the last 15-20 years.
The Queensland Government should show some intestinal fortitude and stand up to the advice of the Treasury and the advocates of the Costello Report.
Otherwise they may end up patting themselves on the back for achieving fiscal balance but will have driven power prices through the roof and removed our ability to facilitate industry development by developing energy assets, Mr Katter said.