Bidding opens for Port of Brisbane

Bligh Government opens bidding for Port of Brisbane as part of privatisation of state assets

April 23, 2010

Bidding has opened for a 99-year lease on the Port of Brisbane as part of a government sell-off of state assets that includes Queensland Rail (QR).

Treasurer Andrew Fraser yesterday invited bids for the port and expects a transaction will be finalised by the end of year.

The bidding process involves three stages – collecting expressions of interest, short-listing bidders and conducting due diligence.

Under the lease, Queensland will retain ownership of the land and infrastructure but transfer the expense and risk of operating a commercial shipping port to the private sector.

By leasing the port, Fraser claims the Government can use the revenue to fund schools, roads and hospitals.

"The Port of Brisbane is already a powerhouse of economic activity. This is the logical next step in order to see the business grow into the future," Fraser says.

All bidders will be subject to requirements of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and approvals if necessary.

Any international bidders will also need to meet requirements se by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

The Government’s decision to privatise the port, Queensland Motorways, the Abbot Point coal terminal and above and below rail assets has been heavily criticised by the Opposition and unions.

Queensland Motorways operate the Logan and Port of Brisbane motorways, the Gateway Bridge and its duplication project.

QR’s coal haulage is on the auction block, but the Government is investigating the sale of the company’s bulk and regional freight services.

State assets are due to be auctioned over the next three to five years, with Bligh expecting bidding to raise $15 billion to reduce deficits and improve Queensland’s credit rating by 2013.

Along with announcing the privatisation plans last year, Bligh scrapped Queensland’s 8.3 cents a litre fuel subsidy.

The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) claims privatisation will put transport workers’ jobs at risk

"Public services are operated primarily in the interests of the people of Queensland rather than in the interests of shareholders returns," the QCU wrote in a statement.

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