Queensland Labor votes to sell TAB

June 23, 1999

Queensland Labor votes to sell TAB

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — The Queensland Totalisator Agency Board (TAB), the government-owned centralised betting agency, will be sold to investors in a $200 million privatisation endorsed by the ALP state conference on June 12.

More than 300 delegates voted on the voices to support the sell-off, after a speech by Brisbane Lord mayor Jim Soorley claiming that only the "ideologically pure" would want to keep the TAB in public hands. Without privatisation, the TAB would be overtaken by southern betting agencies, he told the delegates.

Janice Mayes, state secretary of the Australian Services Union, which represents TAB workers, said privatisation would cost jobs. Premier Peter Beattie admitted as much, saying 1000 jobs could go. He claimed more jobs would be lost if the TAB remained in public hands.

The Brisbane Courier-Mail editorial on June 14 rejoiced: "Premier Peter Beattie's TAB privatisation policy victory at the weekend Labor Party conference is a triumph of economic rationalism, as much as the ALP leader might wince at the suggestion".

Despite all the rhetoric about "saving jobs" through privatisation, the reality is that this is yet another example of the ALP's adherence to the agenda of big business. Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank at the federal level were sold off by Labor, and now the TAB and other state-owned properties are being privatised, all in the name of "economic efficiency".

No wonder Beattie and his government have received such glowing praise in the big-business media.

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