Ports, power assets under scrutiny in bid to cut debt

The future of the Port of Gladstone will be reviewed
The future of the Port of Gladstone will be reviewed Brenda Strong

THE future for the Port of Gladstone, Townsville and power suppliers CS Energy and Stanwell will be put under scrutiny by the Queensland Government as it attempts to pull itself out from under $80 billion in debt.

The latest update on the state of the state included comments from Treasurer Tim Nicholls that it would cost up to $30 billion for Queensland to pay down enough debt to regain the state's AAA credit rating.

He said $4 billion a year was currently being paid as interest on the debt, money he said ought to be allocated to critical services including health, education and police.

Treasurer Nicholls sought to reaffirm the deficit as "Labor debt" more than 18 months after taking power.

The government is still working from the findings released by its Commission of Audit, a team headed by former Coalition treasurer Peter Costello.

Aside from "detailed investigations" for CS Energy and Stanwell, there would also be a parallel study into whether Ergon Energy's retail arm could be melded with other power assets owned by the government "as a means of increasing competition".

"In line with the government's response to the Commission of Audit, studies will also be done into the options for the Gladstone Ports Corporation and the Port of Townsville Limited," Mr Nicholls said.

"We committed to investigate the option of long-term leases being made available for these two ports and these studies will look at the feasibility of that recommendation."

Mr Nicholls again emphasised no asset would be sold off without widespread approval from Queenslanders and that no decision had been made on what would go under the hammer.

Topics:  budget cs energy cutbacks port of gladstone stanwell

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