It’s unsurprising that former Queensland Treasury supremo Sir Leo Hielscher supports asset sales (as reported in the Brisbane Times today), given that as one-time head of the Treasury Corporation he was very concerned with actually finding the cash to pay the bills – a practical matter that is arguably more challenging than the more abstract task of preparing Government Budgets. During the financial crisis, Treasury officials in Queensland, and no doubt their counterparts in other States, were very worried about where they’d find the cash to pay the bills – i.e. they were worried about whether investors would buy their bonds. Ultimately the Commonwealth stepped in with a temporary borrowing guarantee and their fears were allayed, but no doubt the concern about the availability of cash is still front of mind for many Treasury officials.
As many readers will know, over the last year or so I’ve been a strong supporter of asset sales, and I will once again present my views at an upcoming seminar for the Queensland Branch of the Economic Society on 23 July:
My previous comments on privatisation include: