Qld treasurer is happy to talk but no debate with expert

TREASURER Tim Nicholls may be willing to tour the state to discuss the government's plan to offload assets, but debating a Brisbane economist appears a step too far.

After making some mischievous comments on Twitter about the campaign, Professor John Quiggin was approached by the Electrical Trades Union to oppose the Treasurer in a debate.

Professor Quiggin has previously been commissioned by the ETU in Victoria to analyse the consequences of privatising electricity assets.

The Queensland Government is currently considering privatising generators CS Energy and Stanwell Corporation.

Prof Quiggin said he challenged former Labor treasurer Andrew Fraser on the same topic when that government was preparing to sell assets.

He also declined.

"The instinct of politicians is typically not to go into this type of thing," he said.

"I think from the Treasurer's point of view, the public is pretty obviously sceptical.

"If he has arguments, he would present them in a forum where he is right and I am wrong."

Prof Quiggin said promises of better customer service or better prices never appear.

"What we get is a faceless company that directs us to a call centre where they are working from a script," he said.

Mr Nicholls told journalists on Tuesday he had no intention of speaking to "the ETU's paid economist".

"As you know I've been talking to people all over Queensland.

"I'll be continuing to talk to Queenslanders across the state.

"I don't intend to speak to the ETU's paid economist Mr Quiggin whose views are already well known."

Topics:  privatisation queensland government tim nicholls treasurer

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