Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Australians Dispose Of State Assets In Freight Rail And Port Sell Off

Leases to be Sold on Rail, Ports and Motorways throughout Eastern State
Shipping News Feature

QUEENSLAND – AUSTRALIA – Despite howls of opposition from trade unions the state government is to proceed with its proposed sell off of state assets. Two new companies will be formed to handle rail traffic and one of them, QR National will possess a 99 year lease holding for the state freight networks, including the important coal traffic. The company will be publicly listed half way through next year and existing Queensland Rail staff will receive a “sweetener” of A$1,000 worth of shares and a two year employment guarantee.

The state government say that the move is essential to free up funds for infrastructure development in all fields, education, medicine etc. as well as transport. Initially only up to 40% of the company shares will be sold on the exchange with the rest being disposed of later. The authorities are insistent the assets are not being sold, merely leased, but unions say that the length of the lease period equates to a sale.

The Port of Brisbane will also be disposed of via the same process and lease period some time late in 2010. The right to levy motorway tolls is also to be sold off, in this case via a forty year lease coming up for sale in 2011. Queensland residents are expected to receive a guaranteed allocation of a percentage of share sales. Forestry assets are also being disposed of and the Abbot Point coal terminal will also go via a similar process.