PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has called for a full industry consultation around the possible divestment of ports, after the Queensland Commission of Audit released an executive summary recommending that the Queensland government should dispose of those businesses which operate in commercial markets in the ports sector.
While no specific ports have been named, media speculation has suggested the focus will be on the Gladstone and Townsville ports, which the QRC said were both key elements of the export supply chain for the Queensland resources sector.
The Commission of Audit’s report was aimed at restoring the state’s financial strength through a two-staged strategy. The first was to arrest the deterioration of the state’s financial position, while the second stage was to look at ways of paying down the state’s debt.
The disposal of certain businesses was earmarked for the second stage as a way of reducing the state’s commercial risk.
“The QRC has not adopted a position of opposition to privatisation of ports. What the QRC has asked for is full consultation with industry on government plans for the future ownership of these ports,” CEO Michael Roche said on Tuesday.
“In that consultation with industry, we would want to work through the lessons learned from the sale of the 99-year lease over the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal by the Beattie government in 2001. We also want to understand planned protection against price gouging by a new owner and also the appropriate protection for assets at these ports funded by industry.”
Roche said the QRC was committed to a constructive engagement with the Queensland government on this issue.