The Queensland Government needs some new advisers who can prepare logical, coherent arguments as to why particular assets such as ports and electricity businesses should be privatised, because the current Strong Choices campaign has flopped (see the Brisbane Times article Strong choices on budget spark debate). The campaign appears to have been developed by PR consultants, but it doesn’t present any facts or logic that would convince the public on the need to sell assets. It doesn’t address the primary concern people have over asset sales – that the community will get ripped off and private operators will make monopoly profits. The Government needs to explain how the proposed sale process and post-sale regulation will protect the public from getting ripped off. Given I support the Government’s position on asset sales, I’m disappointed that it is being let down by poor PR advice.
Steve Austin and I had a good chat about the problems with the Strong Choices campaign and the People’s Budget website application on 612 ABC Brisbane radio yesterday morning:
Steve got in touch with me early yesterday morning after he read my Monday night post:
Also, I’d recommend Mark Beath’s post from yesterday:
Mark makes a great point about the failure of the website application to offer genuine choices around changing the tax mix:
Sadly, there was no interactive option which allowed me to play with abolishing stamp duties on insurance and property transactions in return for a broad based land tax. More sadly the responses they are likely to receive on the info provided could well lock out any such reform. The explanatory information provided on land taxes will inevitably skew a more negative response.
The Queensland Treasury needs to pay less attention to its PR consultants and instead focus on producing solid economic analysis of the pros and cons of asset sales, which can then inform a serious public debate.