Existing hospitals will not be privatised: Springborg

THE Newman Government has officially ruled out privatising any existing public hospitals in Queensland.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg confirmed there was nothing in the Commission of Audit Report, tabled in State Parliament on Tuesday, which recommended privatising public hospitals.

"The Government's 'Blueprint for Better Healthcare', along with the Commission of Audit report, makes it clear that under this Government not one of our existing hospitals will be privatised.  Not one," he said.

Mr Springborg said claims that hospitals would be sold had now been exposed as "inflammatory hysterical rantings" from union bosses.

In relation to hospitals yet to be built, Mr Springborg said the State Government remained open-minded as to the best models for operating them once they came on-line, but that free universal hospital coverage would remain.

Mr Springborg also thanked the Labor Party for its bipartisan support for greater out-sourcing of some health services where it provided better patient care and better value for money.

 

Newman rules out energy fire sale but ports up for grabs

The Newman Government has flagged offering long-term leases for the Port of Gladstone but has ruled out selling off state-owned electricity assets, including Energex and Ergon.

In his address to Parliament following the full release of the lengthy Commission of Audit, Mr Newman ruled out the fire sale of assets, including Energex, Ergonomic and Powerlink, to pay down debt.

He said the government would not be seeking a mandate at the 2015 election.

But Treasurer Tim Nicholls confirmed the government would consider its options in regard to the Ports of Gladstone, Townsville and energy generators, including CS Energy and Stanwell.

Mr Nicholls said the sale of electricity generators would not happen until after 2015-2016.

The government will investigate issuing long-term leases to private operators for the Ports of Gladstone and Townsville.

Offering a long-term lease for these means the government would maintain ownership of these ports, Mr Newman told Parliament.

Campbell Newman
Campbell Newman

In regards to outsourcing of services, Mr Newman said the Commission of Audit looked into "contestability", which was not the same as outsourcing.

Contestability was about the government testing the market to ensure it was providing people with the services they deserved at the best possible price, Mr Newman said.

"The government will continue to deliver services that it does well," he said Mr Newman said the government was moving forward with a positive outlook that would ensure Queensland's future economic growth.

"This plan outlined in the Commission of Audtit is a plan for Queensland's future," he said.

"It's about making Queensland the best state in Australia, the best government in Australia..."

Mr Newman said he knew many of the recommendations in the report were going to be hotly debated.

"But this government is about doing what is right for Queensland..." he said.

RAILWAY VANDALS: Two men were seen leaving debris along rail crossing between Warwick and Allora Monday night. Photo Emma Channon/Warwick Daily News
RAILWAY VANDALS: Two men were seen leaving debris along rail crossing between Warwick and Allora Monday night. Photo Emma Channon/Warwick Daily News Emma Channon

Maintenance of regional rail networks to be outsourced

THE maintenance of regional rail networks will be outsourced, although Queensland Rail will keep a tight grasp on the operations themselves, according to the Commission of Audit released on Tuesday morning.

Other state-owned ports, including Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, Hay Point and Abbot Point will remain in the control of government-owned North Queensland Bulk Ports, even as the report recommended selling off the ports of Gladstone and Townsville.

The government is at pains to point out no decisions have yet been made, although it has rejected just six or about 4% of recommendations made by former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello.

Among the 118 suggestions immediately accepted by the LNP was the need for the private sector to build any future dams unless there was a "public good or market failure reasons" to develop it themselves.

School assets would be "reconfigured" to push better use and lower the ongoing cost of maintenance and new ways of building schools would be investigated.

Mr Costello's report included recommendations to outsource parts of traffic control, speed cameras and court support, currently done by police.

The management of Queensland prisons would also be put out to tender for private companies to bid on.

These have been "noted" by the government as it waits for the outcome of the Keelty Review which is looking into the state of the Queensland's police, fire, ambulance, EMQ and Queensland Corrective Services.

Commission of Audit spans 1000 pages, has 155 recommendations

The 1000-page tome includes 155 recommendations to improve Queensland's economy, of which 118 are to be immediately adopted.

Another 13 are "noted" and six have been rejected.

Treasurer Nicholls said the government would not sell off any government-owned electricity transmission businesses which would include PowerLink, but the possibility of offloading Stanwell, CS Energy, ports of Gladstone and Townsville would be considered.

"An open and informed debate is required and the government will not sell these businesses without a mandate from the people," he said.

Unions across Queensland previously vowed to wage a war stretching until the next State poll in an effort to force the government to drop the proposals.

Beyond the threat of asset sales, Mr Nicholls said the report also pushed for reforms of what it deemed "frontline services".

"The report recommends the government continue to provide core services such as policing, public safety, emergency and justice services," he said.

"There are Queenslanders who aren't getting the services they need because for decades, the Government hasn't changed the way it does business."

 

WHAT IS FOR SALE?

Government says no decision has been made but has flagged the following could be on the auction block

  • Stanwell:  Queensland's power generator able to supply more than 45% of the state's peak power needs.
  • CS Energy: Power generator with three power stations and 450 workers.
  • QIC - Investment manager owned by the state.
  • Port of Gladstone
  • Port of Townsville


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