A PETITION to stop the sale of the Port of Gladstone was launched on Friday by the Queensland Labor Party after it was revealed the Newman government had contracted an investment analyst to review the sale.
Speaking at Spinnaker Park on Friday morning, State Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the hiring of the contractor was part of the Newman government's "secret plan" to sell the port
"The premier of this state engaged JP Morgan the week before Christmas, to sell off this port, to sell off this asset. Campbell Newman needs to now come out today and categorically rule out the sale of this port," she said.
Ms Palaszczuk and State Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne called on residents to sign the petition to stop the privatisation.
"We want the whole Gladstone community to get behind us to save our port and make sure this asset stays in Queensland's hands," she said.
"If this port is sold off there is no guarantee that the local people here, the local community of Gladstone will benefit."
Mr Byrne said if the port were privatised there was a risk that Gladstone could lose employment opportunities and community investment.
The petition is available www.parliament.qld.gov.au.
The port is among 30 public assets highlighted in an Infrastructure Australian analysis as being ripe for privatisation.
The analysis found selling all 30 major state and federal assets would provide an injection to government owners of $92 billion, compared with the expected dividend of $28 billion under continued government ownership.
Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls has said no assets would be sold without first seeking a mandate from voters.
Mr Nicholls has commissioned a scoping study to look into the benefits of selling the port.
Gladstone Ports Corporation raked in $58 million in post-tax profits last financial year, held assets of more than $1.8 billion and returned $48 million to shareholders in dividends.