Opposition continues to Qld Rail sell-off

Union and community opposition has firmed against Labor Premier Anna Bligh’s bid to privatise Queensland Rail National (QR), as the government prepares to launch shares in the rail freight corporation on November 22.

QR National, a 140-year-old public asset, will be sold off at an estimated $2.50-$3 a share, raising up to $7.3 billion, ABC’s Lateline said on October 11.

Rail Tram and Bus Union state secretary Owen Doogan in Brisbane’s October 11 Courier-Mail said it was a “foolish decision” for the government to sell off the asset — and an even worse decision to sell it off now.

"We agree with the treasurer that this is a great Queensland business and that's why we're angry about it being sold”, he said.

"Selling at this point in time makes no sense, because the real value in QR won't be realised for a couple of years when the market recovers from the [global financial crisis]. This is not the best deal for taxpayers.”

The union has condemned the $186 million advertising campaign launched by Bligh to promote the sell-off, stating on October 12 that there was no guarantee that services and jobs would be cut, or that prices would rise.

The union has also said executive salaries are likely to rise at the expense of workers and services.

Bligh said on October 12 that the income from the sale of state assets would be used to pay off debt, rather than improve community services.

Bligh's dissatisfaction rating now stands at 65%.

Electrical Trades Union state secretary Peter Simpson said it would not matter what the government did with the money because voters had turned off Bligh permanently, the October 13 Courier-Mail said.

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