No guarantees for GPC as complaint lodged about Costello

There's plenty of activity on Gladstone Harbour. Photos were taken during a Gladstone Ports Corporation Harbour Tour.
There's plenty of activity on Gladstone Harbour. Photos were taken during a Gladstone Ports Corporation Harbour Tour. David Sparkes

THERE'S no guarantee Gladstone Ports Corporation will remain in public hands, after the Treasurer again refused to rule out its privatisation on Wednesday.

Speaking in state parliament, independent Member for Gladstone Liz Cunninghan asked Treasurer Tim Nicholls if he would rule out privatising the organisation.

Mr Nicholls replied that no assets would be sold without the proposal being taken to an election first.

"I understand and commend (Mrs Cunningham) for her concern in relation to employment of people at Gladstone Ports Corporation, and I acknowledge the role that Gladstone Ports Corporation plays in the economic prosperity of this state, being a massive coal handling terminal, the largest in the state," he said.

"That is why we are taking our time in considering the (Queensland Commission of Audit report) and we will be talking to people like the member and others in relation to the recommendations that have been made.

"But we have made no decisions. We will consider the report carefully. We will reflect on it and, as always, make a decision in the best interests of Queenslanders."

Meanwhile, a complaint about former federal treasurer Peter Costello has been lodged with the Crime and Misconduct Commission, highlighting a potential conflict of interest in overseeing the future of the state's finances.

Brisbane Times reports the complaint involves Mr Costello's ownership of a lobby group representing companies that could benefit from asset sales.

Epstein Costello Gazard (ECG) Advisory Solutions - the private lobby group owned by Mr Costello and two of his former parliamentary staffers - made a declaration in February on the federal register that it lobbies for clients including SP AusNet, Primary Health Care, ASG Group and Serco Asia Pacific.

All are companies that could benefit from the recommendations of Queensland's "independent audit" of the state's finances, which has been chaired by Mr Costello.

That Commission of Audit last week handed down recommendations to sell or outsource many of the state's assets and services, including electricity and healthcare.

The complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission - made by an Australian business figure and past donor to the Liberal Party - draws attention to Mr Costello's role as a co-owner and chairman of ECG.

Read the full story at the Brisbane Times.

Topics:  gladstone ports corporation gpc liz cunningham queensland government treasurer

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