Residents against the state's sell-off scheme

MORE than 80 per cent of Ipswich residents oppose the State Government's plans to privatise Queensland Rail's coal haulage operations according to new figures released by union bosses.

The report by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and polling group UMR Research reveals 68 per cent of Ipswich residents questioned were strongly opposed to the privatisation plans, while 15 per cent were moderately opposed.

Just under half of all those polled said they were less likely to vote for Labor in the next state election as a direct result of their plans to sell state-owned assets.

ETU state secretary Peter Simpson, who yesterday launched a billboard on the corner of Park Street and Warwick Road attacking Transport Minister Rachel Nolan, said the State Government should listen to voter's concerns.

“People are saying they don't like it and they don't like the way it's being done,” Mr Simpson said.

“We're not doing it for the fun of it - it's a bad decision by the government and we need to put the pressure on them.”

He said the ETU will unveil more billboards slamming the government's privatisation plans in Labor seats and will plan further rallies.

Union leaders fear the privatisation of QR's coal haulage operations could cost the jobs of more than 600 railway workers in Ipswich.

Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said she understood why voters were concerned with the privatisation plans, but said the economic conditions had forced the State Government to make tough decisions.

“Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions, but I think this is a step in the right direction,” Ms Nolan said.

“It's a commercial operation, and if I had to choose between commercial coal and funding schools and hospitals, I would go for the public benefit every time.

“When announcing this plan, the Premier made a firm commitment that their jobs will be protected for two years after the sale, and the sales won't be happening for two to three years.”



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