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MP under fire for accusing candidate of leasing hypocrisy

CREATING CONTROVERSY: Ipswich West MP Sean Choat created a storm after accusing Labor candidate Jim Madden of hypocrisy for leasing his law offices.
CREATING CONTROVERSY: Ipswich West MP Sean Choat created a storm after accusing Labor candidate Jim Madden of hypocrisy for leasing his law offices. FILE

ELECTRICAL Trades Union (ETU) state secretary Peter Simpson has described it as "one of the stupidest comments" by an elected public official that he has ever heard.

Ipswich West MP Sean Choat has created a storm, which has blown up in his own face, after accusing Labor's Ipswich West candidate Cr Jim Madden of hypocrisy for leasing his law offices from Somerset Regional Council while opposing the LNP's proposed 50 to 99-year lease of the state's power and transmission networks.

"Jim Madden is saying that leases are no good and that a lease is like a sale," Mr Choat said.

"But I've found out he leases his business premises in Lowood off Somerset Regional Council.

"So he's quite happy to be part of an organisation that leases out its assets and is happy to be a lessee of government assets.

"So the question is: If leases are bad then why doesn't he buy his premises?

"If he is absolutely opposed to leasing then he wants to have a look at his own business interests and come clean."

Cr Madden said Mr Choat had his facts wrong for a start, and added that his comments were "a low blow".

"When Queensland Railways pulled out of town in Lowood the council took over all of the land they occupied," Cr Madden said.

"But the railways had this weird arrangement where they'd lease land to people and allow them to put a building on the land.

"I lease the land my building stands on, but I own the building. So Mr Choat has his facts wrong."

Other businesses that surround Cr Madden's also sign a land lease with council.

"He (Mr Choat) is trying to say there is some hypocrisy in me and the Labor Party opposing asset sales when I happen to lease the land my building is situated on from Somerset Regional Council," Mr Madden said.

"But to try and draw that inference is ridiculous.

"Hundreds of thousands of businesses in Australia lease their premises and a good percentage of those would lease them from government organisations. It is the way business operates.

"That is a completely different issue to wholesale asset sales by a way of 99-year lease.

"When the LNP originally started talking about asset sales, poles and wires weren't an issue. But the minute they talk about leasing, then poles and wires came on the agenda.

"Mr Choat is not just drawing a long bow. If this is the only thing he can find to criticise me on it is a low blow. What sort of brain explosion did this come from?"

Mr Simpson said Mr Choat's comments showed "he doesn't know what he is on about".

"That is one of the stupidest statements I have heard. The man is an imbecile," Mr Simpson said.

"In South Australia under the 99-year lease arrangements, if the new lessee works on any part of the network it becomes theirs for the life of a lease. So if a private company replaces a pole, that becomes their property.

"Over the 99 years everything becomes their property."

"What (State Treasurer) Tim Nicholls is now saying is that after the election they will work out the details of the leases.

"But people are going to get sucked in. We can see what has already happened in South Australia.

"Choat should understand that, because we sent him a report that explains it. But clearly he doesn't understand."

Topics:  asset sales, editors picks, electrical trades union, jim madden, privatisation, sean choat



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