Want funding? "Get real" on port leases: Newman

GLADSTONE and Townsville mayors opposed to the potential lease out their local ports need to "get real" if they want to see funding boosts for new projects, Premier Campbel Newman has declared.

Following the State Government's consideration of a Commission of Audit recommendation to lease the major ports, Gladstone mayor Gail Sellers labelled the move short-sighted.

She said the community would be devastated the asset would be lost to the community for generations to come.

But Mr Newman was unmoved and said mayors needed to get real.

"As I go round this state I still find, I am afraid, people that still want us to spend money that the government doesn't have on new projects," he said.

"For example, I know the mayor of Gladstone in the last few months has asked us for funding for projects that haven't been projected before and particularly the mayor of Townsville was doing that the other day.

"So if the mayor of Townsville and the mayor of Gladstone want to help us with this task and they want this sort of funding then they have to get real."

The Commission of Audit highlights the ownership discrepancies between the Gladstone Ports Corporation and the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation.

The GPC both owns and operates bulk cargo facilities while NQBP allows private operators to provide some facilities through long leases of government-owned land.

The audit stated the current ownership structure of ports was not geared towards maximizing the commercial return for the State Government and recommend the Townsville and Gladstone ports be leased.

The Maritime Union of Australia accused Mr Newman of back flipping on the potential sell off of Gladstone Port and vied to fight the move.

MUA Queensland branch secretary Mick Carr said workers in Gladstone were extremely upset by the announcement and felt betrayed by Mr Newman's backflip.

"The MUA has 300 members in Gladstone that are worried about their jobs and about how they will be able to support their families," Mr Carr said.

"The port is the economic centre of Gladstone and it's a real concern that the Newman Government is selling off a valuable public asset that supports the local economy."



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