Fresh from announcing that Queensland is on the brink of bankruptcy, and sacking 14 000 (“non-frontline”) public servants Premier Campbell Newman has announced plans to demolish the Executive Building (where he and his Ministers have their headquarters) and Public Works Building, to replace them with spanking new ones. Apparently, the front line is in George Street.
The proposal is wrapped up in such a way as to make it impossible to determine true cost. It will be run as a PPP, a bunch of heritage assets will be sold, doubtless in a way that reduces their protection and increases their market value, and a casino license will be thrown into the mix. But, it’s blatantly obvious that if you tear down a building and put up a new one with exactly the same purpose, you are taking on additional debt, whatever the accounts can be made to say.
This kind of shonky deal is precisely what Commissions of Audit are supposed to investigate. And fortunately, we have one, due to report early next year. I’m confident that Peter Costello, Doug McTaggart and Sandra Harding, backed up by a strong secretariat will be able to unravel this deal and show how much harder it will make the task of reducing state debt.
And of course, if there’s anything really dodgy going on, we have the Crime and Misconduct Commission. At least, we do for now.
I did an interview on all this with the Queensland 730 program, which may go to air this evening.