The Government may be having second thoughts about its decision to lease out rather than sell assets, as it’s facing a lot of tricky (and legitimate) questions on what the lease conditions would be from opponents such as the ETU (see Brisbane Times report Queenslanders may be forced into buyback after asset lease). The Government is exposed to criticism because it hasn’t fully thought through its asset leasing proposal and doesn’t yet have the evidence to convince the public of the merits of the proposal. Instead of running the uninformative Strong Choices campaign, the Government should have spent money on a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of privatisation options and used this analysis to inform and influence the public debate.
That said, I’m in favour of the Government’s plan to lease out assets, because I expect privately managed assets will be better run and the prices of their services will ultimately be lower, but I think Queenslanders would be even better off selling the assets than leasing them out. I expect the proceeds of an asset sale would be greater than those from a lease, because a premium would be paid for actually owning the asset, as I mentioned to Rebecca Levingston on ABC 612 Brisbane in mid-September when the Government’s leasing plan was announced (see ABC radio interview on asset leases).