State Treasurer Tim Nicholls.
State Treasurer Tim Nicholls. Dave Hunt

ETU boss demands answers on LNP leases

GIVE US all the facts on your asset leasing program before the next election.

That is the gist of the letter Electrical Trades Union (ETU) state secretary Peter Simpson wrote to State Treasurer Tim Nicholls yesterday seeking answers to key questions about the LNP's asset leasing program.

The anger at the LNP's plans to lease state assets was on show in Ipswich on Saturday when a large crowd protested in front of Ipswich MP Ian Berry's office as part of a Not4Sale campaign across the state.

Mr Simpson said the ETU and Not4Sale campaign had researched how 50 to 99-year leases might work in practice and cited the example of South Australia where leasing of electricity assets amounted to "sale by stealth".

Apart from producing the highest prices in Australia, job cuts, overseas ownership and control and maintenance issues, Mr Simpson said the South Australian example revealed that the leaseholders literally acquire the networks one piece at a time.

"The terms of that lease...include a provision for any maintenance work undertaken by the new owners on any plant or equipment becoming the possession/asset of the new owners," Mr Simpson said.

"Any new lines, substations or infrastructure built or added to the network during the terms of the lease results in that infrastructure becoming the property of the new owners as well.

"The result being that over the term of the lease all of the infrastructure that was previously owned by the South Australian Government, and therefore the people, would ultimately become the property of the foreign owners."

Mr Simpson said "such a leasing scenario is a sale by another name, as even the Treasurer admitted in 2010" when on March 23, 2010 he made a telling comment in parliament about the Labor Party's then unpopular plans to lease assets.

"As anyone would know if they had observed the privatisation of assets, a 99-year lease is as good as giving away the farm, which is what is occurring here," Mr Nicholls said at the time.



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