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Labor reveals Qld 'asset sales' plan

AAP logoAAP 5/10/2016 Jamie McKinnell

State-owned land will be sold or leased to help pay for Queensland infrastructure projects under a plan the government insists does not constitute asset sales.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Thursday unveiled a policy to allocate under-utilised pockets of land for "urban renewal" projects to help fund big-ticket items like Brisbane's Cross River Rail tunnel.

"We have a huge potential here to partner with the local government, to partner with the private sector, to unlock the economic potential to create jobs," Ms Palaszczuk said in Townsville.

The city will get a $28 million waterfront promenade development, while sites in Rockhampton, Mackay, Hervey Bay, Toowoomba, and Brisbane will also undergo a change.

The announcement represents a significant shift in rhetoric for Labor, which had staunchly opposed the Liberal National Party's privatisation agenda in the lead up to the 2015 election and promised not to sell assets.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls - the public face of the LNP's "Strong Choices" privatisation plan - accused Ms Palaszczuk of lying to voters.

"They have every right to be disappointed and upset," he said.

"What she's doing is engaging in a fire sale of land assets."

Shadow treasurer Scott Emerson said Labor was merely "dusting off" the LNP's plan to offload excess land.

Mr Nicholls admitted he would have otherwise supported the implementation of his party's plan.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said to characterise Labor's move as an asset sale would be a misrepresentation, but the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) said any reasonable-minded person would disagree.

Nevertheless, CCIQ director of advocacy Nick Behrens offered strong support, saying the decision would deliver a "string of benefits" including construction jobs and the promotion of population growth.

"Call it what you will, but at the core it's a very good decision," Mr Behrens told AAP.

"Leadership ultimately comes by making decisions that aren't necessarily popular but are in the best interests of the state."

The importance of the government's distinction to not sell "income-generating assets" has been made clear by the announcement, with Ms Trad saying the land in question was a drain on the public purse.

The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU), which repeatedly protested against the LNP's privatisation agenda, also backed the policy.

"As long as the monies from the sales goes back into infrastructure that generates jobs, the QCU is not opposed to the sale," General Secretary Ros McLennan said.

The LNP is yet to declare its intentions regarding asset sales or leases and Mr Nicholls refused to say at what point that will happen prior to the next state election, due by early 2018.

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