Costello propaganda covers QLD asset sales

The Courier-Mail is reporting that the final Queensland Commission of Audit report has been presented to the Government, although the Commission’s website is yet to publish the document.

Not surprisingly the report apparently recommends selling ports and electricity assets in order to reduce government debt.  The Australian indicates that the report says it would take 50 years to pay off Queensland’s debt if nothing was done – which says nothing at all about whether the debt is a good or bad sign about the state of the economy, nor whether the economy would be better or worse without the debt.  It is pretty irrational advice to argue that debt should always be zero.  What kind of company would be run like that?

So what is this report really all about?

Propaganda.

The Newman government defeated a Labor party that was heavily criticised for selling public assets.  But their ideology is  more strongly in favour of privatisation and they want to continue the privatisation process. But knew they had to sell these decisions better to the public.  So they started early and engaged Peter Costello and friends to produce a document that can be used as an excuse, or reference point, for future decisions to fully privatise State assets.

If the government was genuinely concerned about their finances, we would have seen something different occur . First, a report would have been prepared by existing institutions, with expertise in the financial structures of Queensland government entities.  Perhaps Treasury, or the Queensland Audit Office might be an appropriate place to start.

If the exercise was genuine we would see some public discussion about the merits of public debt and the financial benefits to the State from privatisation.  When the Bligh government sold State asset in 2009 20 economists produced a letter explaining that their are benefits to government ownership of assets that could outweigh any burden of the debts that could be reduced by selling. Again, there is no argument about the merit of debts, and the costs of privatisation.

Would you decide to sell your business simply because you had debt, even if that business was profitable and had solid future prospects? No. The best thing is to keep the debt and the business, as the returns from the equity in the business outweigh the cost of debt.

By definition the price the government would receive for any asset sales is a price that reflects a market level of return on equity, which would surely be higher than the rate of interest on the debt that is being repaid. Thus, by definition the government is in a financially better position to own the assets.

Unless there are likely to be massive innovations in these businesses, that can’t be achieved in a situation of partial or full government ownership, then it is not a financially effective decision to privatise.  It is pure ideology.

Expect very little analysis of this report in the media.  Expect this propaganda to work. Expect the friends of the government to make a mint during the privatisation process.

Welcome to Queensland.

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Comments

  1. Rumple,

    Can you tell me if the QLD power companies have guaranteed rates of return like NSW do?

    The “gold plating” of infrastructure argument is a good reason to privatise.

    • But privatisation won’t fix the gold plating problem. It will merely transfer the rent seeking from the fiscal to private hands.

      • Privatising combined with an RPI minus X pricing regime imposed by the regulator will sort the gold plating problem.

      • Rumplestatskin

        From my experience, regulatory regimes, including CPI-X, actually offer incentives to gold plate.

        Consider you are a utility looking at the cost path for the next regulatory period. You inflate your cost path as much as possible because you get to keep the difference between expected and actual costs – a reward for efficiency.

        But you also don’t want to get too efficient, because then it gets harder for you to beat the cost path in the next regulatory period. The outcome is you simply waste money on yourselves to keep the cost curve high, just as public sector bureaucracies tend to do over time.

      • Not only do you not want to get too efficient, you also can ‘mine’ the assets by not maintaining them. Ie you get CPI-X+MD where MD is maintenance deficit. If you are clever, you can make that a net positive over CPI.

        This, of course is at the cost of ever declining reliability.

        Now, at some point there will be a disaster or near disaster (eg Mercury Energy in Auckland or Power and Water in Darwin) at which point, theoretically, the regulator will punish the power provider. I say theoretically, because that punishment might take years to effectively mete out in a contested court case. Meanwhile an angry public is screaming (literally in the case of Power and Water) for Government to ‘do something about it’. Faced with immediate public pressure, and perhaps, maybe winning a long court case, it is not hard to see governments caving in to the power provider to 1) make up the infrastructure deficiencies that the nasty Regulator has forced the poor innocent power provider to resort to, and 2) increase prices to recover full costs of such infrastructure provision.

        So the end point of a CPI-X policy is that the power providers get a profit of greater than CPI by mining the infrastructure, and when it breaks down, get the money to rebuild the infrastructure – including the money they lost by the -X factor. Ie CPI-X is really CPI-X+MD+(X+Profit on X).

        And, of course all that will be done with financing that is more than double the cost of public financing. Wheeeeee!

    • Rumplestatskin

      The short answer is yes. Obviously there are many details, which seem to be constantly changing.

      But the infrastructure gold-plating issue is not as simple as it first appears. Even a fully private company subject to maximum regulatory returns will have incentives to over-invest.

      But when private, they can over-invest not just in actual physical equipment, but salaries of executives and so forth.

      Alos, some degree of gold-plating is not really gold-plating, but a reflection of lower discount rates for public infrastructure. Do you invest in equipment that lasts 40years or 60 years? The higher discount rates of private enterprise might mean that the shorter lifespan equipment is financially preferred, but socially, the best this is to pay 35% more and get 50% more use from the equipment.

      There is a myth out there that large scale private enterprise is immune to bureaucracy. It is not. Competitive pressures tend to make private companies less likely to become bloated, but there simply aren’t competitive pressure in these markets. And in many cases the corporations are partly private anyway, so decision making will be nearly unaffected by full privatisation.

      All you are doing as a State is selling assets to pay debts when there is no reason to do so, and the net public financial position will be worse for it. Imagine that the government raises $10billion from all these asset sales. If the private sector thinks these assets are worth $10billion, they probably expect an annual return in the order of $800million. The cost to government from $10billion in debt is probably about $600million. So they are are making the budget position worse by $200million per year by privatising.

      For a government, the fact that this won’t work is fantastic. Nothing like a desperate situation, a debt catastrophe that seems to persist despite their best efforts, to push through ideological policies.

      It there was a ‘ guide to propaganda’ written in Australia in the future, this episode would be a great case study.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      “The Audit Commission confirms this analysis, but chooses to focus instead on misleading and
      inappropriate measures of gross public sector debt, thereby providing a basis for the LNP
      government to repudiate its electoral commitments and introduce drastic and poorly thoughtout
      cuts to employment and services. In reality, the state’s overall balance sheet, summed up
      by public sector net worth remains strong, and has improved over the last decade.”

  2. In the past the Beattie government demanded a guaranteed return which left them almost penniless and unable to pay for upgrades, to the point that we had regular brown outs. That culminated in the high profile resignation of the CEO and a suicide by one of the senior staff who couldn’t cope.
    I used to regularly talk to the division of Nokia who sold large electricity infrastructure and they rubbed their hands with glee as the orders suddenly rolled in after years of infrastructure neglect.

    Things seem to have improved considerably. The solar installations have improved distribution, despite many reports to the contrary.

    I think that the gold plating has dropped from 24K down to 18K.

  3. Biggest mistake in this article is equating government with the likes of running a company. Greece should be a clear example of what happens when government debt gets out of control.

    It should be pretty obvious that there is little incentive to make assets more efficient while owned publicly. There’s also the other fact that QLD will have to go deeper into debt to fund any capital expenditure.

    Reducing the debt now would be good in the current low interest rate environment. It will be difficult to reduce the stock of debt when the RBA hikes rates when QLD will have to pay higher rates of interest on its debts.

    • When was Queenslands debt position remotely comparable to that of Greece?

      Greece is almost a failed state, Queensland is a long way from that.

    • Rumplestatskin

      “Greece should be a clear example of what happens when government debt gets out of control.”

      Greece is pure politics. It has less debt than Japan. There is a huge difference between EU politics and Australian federal politics. Indeed, around 30% of QLD state debt is guaranteed by the federal government anyway.

      “It should be pretty obvious that there is little incentive to make assets more efficient while owned publicly.”

      Since pretty much all network infrastructure was originally built by various government departments, I beg to differ. Also you have to remember that governments usually run monopolies. There are no incentives in the private sector to be more efficient when you have a monopoly.

      “There’s also the other fact that QLD will have to go deeper into debt to fund any capital expenditure.”

      As would a private company that owns these assets.

      The RBA won’t hike rates, possible for a decade or longer. The world is competing with itself to get negative real interest rates. Now is a great time to take on debt for capital investment in that case!

      • Privatisation does transfer debt from the public sector, to the private.

        Costello was a master at that.

      • The RBA won’t hike rates, possible for a decade or longer.

        I’d be interested to see how you’ve concluded that, a decade is a long time.

        not that I dismiss you, I admire what you write a lot, however..

        The world is competing with itself to get negative real interest rates. Now is a great time to take on debt for capital investment in that case!

        Well it won’t be just them. If debt stays low, it won’t just be busines that loans, the mortgage mug will end up getting on board too, and then the next tranch will be afraid of missing out, and then….

      • Rumples
        “The RBA won’t hike rates, possible for a decade or longer.”

        So you think the RBA will just ignore inflation claiming to ‘look through’ it?

      • I think that Cameron is on the money. The RBA will look at core inflation and ignore “one offs” such as rising petrol prices due to a falling dollar.

        If the cost of imported cars and TV’s rise then that’s not an RBA problem and it’s good for the local car industry.

      • Rumplestatskin

        “So you think the RBA will just ignore inflation claiming to ‘look through’ it?”

        I think inflation will be below their target band for a long while yet. It would take high rates of growth of private or government debt to get decent inflation rates.

        There might be a few inflation surprises flowing through from unexpected exchange rate movements. They will be ‘looked through’, or otherwise ignored.

      • It comes back to how they decide to measure inflation, rather than credit growth I would have thought.
        If we have a TOT crisis aren’t bets off regarding rising interest rates, I suspect the RBA would be in a bind , damned if they raise them due to high levels of private debt and damned if they stay the same due to rising inflation.

    • “It should be pretty obvious that there is little incentive to make assets more efficient while owned publicly.”

      There is just as little incentive when privately owned when it is a natural monopoly. And you can add price gouging on top of that.

  4. What would i rather own, an ex government asset that probally has a monoply and is a physical asset or government debt of a state that may lose its credit rating .

    This will be sold to foreign investors and will finance the CAD or possiblly a local consortium via bankrolling with money again imported from overseas. More Pea and Thimble from costello,as Keating stated, turning govt debt to private debt

    • Rumplestatskin

      Must have been a really excellent piece of investigative work

      “The report found there was no scope to increase taxes or cut expenditure.”

      Wow. Is this before or after 15,000 job cuts from the public service?

      I wonder if they considered removing some land tax exemptions to make the QLD tax base more efficient?

      • The Patrician

        “The report found there was no scope to increase taxes or cut expenditure.”

        If that is an accurate statement, the finding is gobsmacking.

      • The Patrician

        “The report found there was no scope to increase taxes or cut expenditure.”

        If that is an accurate reflection of the contents of the report, the finding is gobsmacking.

    • Funniest comments on that article :).. It seems Courier Mail readers are a lot more intelligent compared to Daily Terror/Herald Sun half wits.

    • Alex Heyworth

      Interesting that Treasurer Nicholls is saying they won’t proceed with any asset sales without a mandate. And Newman seems to be disposed to keep the power sector in government hands.

      Not what a lot of people expected.

      • Perhaps they’re holding off until after the federal election so as to avoid the possibility of costing the coalition seats in QLD.

      • Brissy for now

        With the LNPs massive majority, they could say they were going to cut everything and they will still romp home. There are plenty of rabid anti Labor voters around to ensure this madness goes ahead. I have already bought my nthn NSW farmlet(flood free!) and only the timing of the escape remains. Queensland is reverting to the joke that it was under Joh and mother nature is doing it no favours either.

  5. Stormy WatersMEMBER

    The gold plating issue is simple to fix. Network businesses (private or public) should get a regulated rate of return with clawback provisions.

    Namely, a business proposes some expenditure, goes ahead and builds it and recovers the cost plus a regulated return BUT if the regulator determines that the upgrade is not properly utilised no cost recovery is allowed. That way the businesses will need to trade off the risk of the future write down of assets against the regulated return. Part and parcel of this arrangement is getting the businesses to publish detailed information about load at multiple points in the network – such transparency would make it much harder to hide non-performing assets.

    When the network regulations were being altered in 2007/2008 for the last network determination period (2009-2014) many people pointed out that guaranteed rates of return without clawbacks would lead to massive overinvestment. Pressure from various state and federal ministers and other stakeholders, in the aftermath of underinvestment in the early 2000s and resultant black/brown outs, sunk it and pushed ahead with pure regulated returns without clawback AND with increased reliability standards for the network.

    The goldplating is entirely the result of poor policy/regulation/governance of the network businesses which purposefully created strong incentives to spend and overestimate required levels of investment. A large part of this story derives from their status as mostly public companies. Privatising network businesses tends to lead to much more sensible policy/regulation of the businesses as it removes the conflict of trying to regulate for efficient investment versus receiving fat dividends as proxy taxes. The Queensland Gov concentrated its generators from three businesses to two in order to shore up against the loss in dividends because the assets have been performing so badly. Do you think a state Government would not only support but design, propose and implement the move from oligopoly to duopoly in a critical sector of the state economy if it didn’t own the assets?

    The other point I’d make is that the publically owned power assets in Queensland are woefully run. Privatisation would unleash significant efficiency gains in terms of operations and strategy and more importantly remove a terrible conflict of interest from the state Gov.

    • Rumplestatskin

      “Privatising network businesses tends to lead to much more sensible policy/regulation of the businesses as it removes the conflict of trying to regulate for efficient investment versus receiving fat dividends as proxy taxes.”

      Actually aren’t the incentives for fat dividends as proxy taxes the same as fat dividend for shareholder in a private company?

      “Do you think a state Government would not only support but design, propose and implement the move from oligopoly to duopoly in a critical sector of the state economy if it didn’t own the assets?”

      Well, it depends which situation is cheaper overall doesn’t it? If a duopoly, even a monopoly is cheaper, that would be best, and it would probably be suitable to be government owned or tightly regulated.

      • Stormy WatersMEMBER

        Of course private companies want fat dividends but private entities don’t regulate themselves. There’s no conflict of interest like there is for a public company where the shareholder (Gov) can directly influence the regulatory regime to increase its dividend take as a substitute for increasing taxation.
        Re duopoloy vs oligopoly vs monopoly, no – it is not just a matter of being cheaper. I’m not talking about the natural monopoly of the network businesses where a tightly regulated monopoly is likely to be a good option to avoid infrastructure duplication, I’m talking about the generators. Monopolies in generation, which is not a natural monopoly hence the development of a market like the NEM, are far more likely to lead to deadweight losses to capture monopoly rents. That’s my point. The QLD Gov, trying to manage reducing dividends from its generators and preparing the assets for possible sale, chose to concentrate the market from 3 to 2 major players in generation so that it could capture more rents/dividends at the expense of consumers of electricity. They didn’t do it because it’s cheaper they did it to bolster their budget and to prepare for sale. And the only reason they could do it without ACCC intervention (who would have kittens if any similarly sized merger were to occur between private entities in a single region of the NEM) was because they did it via state based legislation which the ACCC can’t touch. If three private businesses tried to merge in a similar manner in QLD the state Gov would (rightly) throw a fit out of concern for the competitive effects. This highlights the conflict of interest of Gov’s in being able to influence the market structure/regulatory regimes of assets they own. It leads to bad public policy decisions.
        Even in the natural monopoly of network state govs as owners lead to shocking outcomes. NSW chose to combine 3 distribution businesses into one to unlock $400m of cost savings. However, they don’t plan to pass this through to consumers via lower network charges, they plan to increase the dividends to the state. Again, stealth taxation arising from conflicted incentives around publically owned entities.

        Privatise them and regulate them properly.

      • Rumplestatskin

        Very good points.

        I partly agree with your conclusion, “Privatise them and regulate them properly”, but it is easier said then done.

        I guess for me questions like this are really macro. Which is cheaper for society overall? For example, the government unlocks $400mill in cost savings an they increase dividends to the State instead of passing them on. From a macro point of view it doesn’t matter. It simply means that the State is taxing $400mill less from other sources. The fact that the real cost of distribution is far less in terms of resources (labour and inputs) is all that matters.

      • This discussion is interesting but more clarity is needed – you are asking for face-value acceptence that public provision leads to very bad outcomes and that such crucial slices of the public good can be sold off to private profit making interests and easily regulated to produce greatly superior outcomes.

        Do you have any evidence that demonstrates the truth of these assertions?

      • I’ve started doing some digging and the case for private electricity provision being superior to government is looking rather weak so far, though there is more reading to do before I come to any conclusion.

        The one thing I really do have to disagree with Stormy, is the notion that placing electricity provision in private hands assauges some kind of moral hazzard endemic to government ownership. Rather, it creates moral hazzard of it’s own. The sorts of things that government owns are not like your typical private business, hence government ownership. For example, if a comic book store chain collapses due to insolvency, it is sad thing for those who lose their job but the overall effect on the rest of the state is minimal to say the least. Were an electricity provider to collapse, it would be a very different story. Our modern civillization simply can’t do without electricity for any length of time, there would be instant chaos.

        Therefore, any private business that is handed ownership of an essential service such as electricity or water is handed with it, the implicit gaurantee of government. Government cannot and will not LET the service fail under any circumstances. Can you think of a bigger invitation to moral hazzard than a private industry that knows that it is operating with the governments gaurantee, knows that that government will not allow it to fail? Perhaps that goes some way toward explaining the different sizes in CEO renumeration packages once they are privately owned (which the public must pay for) – perhaps a few hundred thousands for a high-level public servant versus many millions of dollars once privately owned.

        Further, I see even partial-privatisation of such services as making little sense. Breaking up the individual components of a single, integrated system such as electricity or water provision into seperate private or public and private entities implies that each component can function idependently of the others. This is patent nonsense – each piece is a part of a single supply chain, if one link breaks, the entire chain must go down. If each individual part is responsable only for itself (and for the returns to it’s shareholders rather than to society at large), then who is responsable for the overall system? Who do we look to if such as systemeic failure occurs?

        The answer is obvious – we look to government. Because that’s why we elect them in the first place – to bear ultimate responsability for the welfare of our society. If we collectively percieve them to have failed in this regard, we have the power to dismiss them, unlike CEO’s of private entities who once having assumed ownership and control of things that are the lifeblood of everyone, become a kind of unelected official, imbued with power but no responsability to anyone other than themselves and their private shareholders.

        There is no need for governments to own pubs and butcher shops any more but the privatisation of essential services such as electricity and water merely represents a form of corporate welfare.

        Keep them in public hands.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Privatise them and regulate them properly.

        If the options are a poorly run public entity and a poorly regulated private monopoly, the former sounds like the lesser of two evils.

    • Assuming that it is simple to fix (avoiding the question of why nobody seems to have been able to do that elsewhere), if companies bidding to buy the assets see that there is a lesser return on their investment likely because of a simple proposal, then they are just going to offer less money for the assets.

      So, if your proposal works, it merely means that Queensland gets less money up front.

      If you CAN find a means of better regulation, that is definitely a bonus, I don’t mean to be negative on that front, merely that the financial outcome is not likely to be any better.

  6. Alex Heyworth

    This subject of government debt raises a significant puzzle. Why are the Australian public so against public debt when they seem to be so happy to rack up private debt?

    • Because they have been told all debt government takes is wasted, governments are irrational spenders.

      Whilst everyone individual knows how to spend money best, and be rational spenders.

  7. Does QLD have an Obeid equilivant who is able to ingrate themselves into both parties via donations and then own key pieces of infrastructure that have been privatised ?

  8. “Expect this propaganda to work. Expect the friends of the government to make a mint during the privatisation process.”

    That’s it in a nutshell.

  9. The author of this post really believes debt is a cure for all the worlds ills.

    The days of debt backed ponzi fiat money and central banking are surely coming to an end with the next wave of crises.

    Its so easy to take down this nonsense when someone asks “What kind of company would be run like that?”

    My answer.

    Apple.

  10. Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

    1. What are these assets worth today? Costello thinks $25bn
    2. What are these assets worth in 3 years time?
    3. What are these assets worth in 10 years time?

    I agree that the cost of debt and the return on assets are important but the price of such assets are something that is going begging in the commentary. Today solar PV at end point is cheaper than the retail price for residential and SME users. With the cost PV solar continually falling and battery systems now being installed you could end up with many of your users simply going offgrid. Your “assets” are then worth very little. They should flog them quick if they want to maximise the price.

    • There will need to be a revolution in technology for the bulk of users to go off grid. As I type, it’s been pissing down and/or heavily overcast for a week and my roof panels have been doing next to nothing for me.

  11. Of course there is no discussion about the merits of government ownership – the panel, as you suggest, was stacked from the outset. Dr McTaggart is a Chicago School of Economics graduate who, like former alma mater Milton Friedman, believes fundamentally in limited Government. His most learned colleague, the former Treasurer, is ideologically antipathetic to the notion of higher taxes. There was only ever going to be one conclusion. We can only hope the voters of Queensland apply a higher degree of rigour of analysis before deciding to give the Newman government the green light to denude future generations of the benefit of public ownership of essential services.

  12. I am not sure if anyone has posted on the report that “it would take 50 years to pay off Queensland’s debt if nothing was done”. The 50 years is being widely reported in the media.

    What the commission has done to arrive at this is “ignoring growth in the base and inflation impacts for simplicity”

    Ignoring growth and inflation over 50 years is not simplicity but rather duplicity. Debt/GSP after 50 years on an appropriate analysis would be??

    • Rumplestatskin

      Great spot. As I said, it is propaganda material, plain and simple.

      I’m glad some of the media is reporting this as mostly a political stunt. You couldn’t dream up the nonsense.

      What I find amusing is that anyone seriously cares about ratings agency opinions. QLD and the UK have the same credit rating. Mmm… Next they will downgrade the US. It’s crazy stuff.

  13. Stephen Morris

    Aggggggghhhhhhh!!!!

    As someone who was involved in privatisation (as a former investment banker) since the mid-1980s and has studied privatisation ever since, let me clear up a few misconceptions.

    Regulation is not a panacea for private rent-seeking because:

    a) rate-of-return regulation is subject to the “Averch-Johnson Effect” (gaming the regulatory system, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averch%E2%80%93Johnson_effect);

    b) price-based or revenue-based regulation (CPI-X, etc) cannot foresee all contingencies for decades into the future and needs to be reset periodically (typically 5 years). At this point it effectively reverts to rate-of-return regulation as the regulator must use some rate-of-return criteria to reset the price regulation;

    c) information asymmetry means that the regulator can never know as much about the business as the rent-seeking monopolist (who is determined to use every strategy to game the system). The regulator is therefore always at a disadvantage in trying to set an appropriate rate of return; and

    d) the private monopolist has every incentive to engage in regulatory capture or political capture to subvert the entire regulatory system.

    Privatisation does have a useful role to play in the economy, but it should be applied subject to Morris’s Rules:

    1. As a rule of thumb, where a firm operates in a competitive industry (as with the airlines, the car makers, and the banks) it is generally better to have it in the private sector.

    2. As a rule of thumb, where a monopoly may be removed or reduced (as in the removal of competitive generation from the generation/transmission monopoly) it is generally worth doing so, and privatising the competitive part.

    3. As a rule of thumb, where a firm operates in an industry in which dynamic efficiency is of overriding importance (requiring rapid response to changing fashions or rapidly evolving technologies or business models) it is generally better to have it in the private sector.

    4. As a rule of thumb, where an industry is labour intensive and not capital intensive, it is generally better to have it in the private sector.

    5. As a rule of thumb, where an industry is capital intensive and – whether it be publicly owned or privately owned – the investment decisions are ultimately made by the government (as in most infrastructure businesses, and many businesses in which externalities and network effects are of overriding importance) there is little to be gained by privatisation.

    6. As a rule of thumb, where an industry uses specific assets having no alternative use, and serves a small number of identifiable customers, it is generally better to have it owned by those customers. (Ref Coase and Williamson here: http://www.economist.com/node/14638409)

    7. As a rule of thumb, where privatisation of an irreducible monopoly would simply create a private rent-seeking monster with an incentive to lobby and corrupt politicians, it is generally better to retain it in the public sector and contract out its individual functions by competitive tender.

    Notwithstanding the manifest disadvantages of ill-advised privatisation it will nevertheless proceed in the most expensive and inefficient way possible. This is because the system of “government-by-politician” is essentially corrupt:

    a) there is no demonstrable relationship between the aggregate preferences of the subject people and the actions of political agents who enjoy a monopoly on power; and

    b) politicians are concerned less with the long run efficient government than with:

    . i) spending today;

    . ii) pandering to influential lobby groups;

    . iii) ensuring that campaign donations are not jeopardised; and

    . iv) making provision for their retirement by ingratiating themselves with influential firms that can offer lucrative directorships and consultancies when they leave politics.

    The key to better policies is to address the poor design of the system of elective government which “adversely selects” the very worst political agents.

    But that’s a story for another day.

  14. I think i’ve at last figured out this privatisation thing:

    1. If the ALP is in power and needs the money its good;
    2. If the ALP is in not in power it’s bad;
    3. If the Libs are not in power it’s not discussed;
    4. If the Libs are in power it’s good.

    Would be great to see some analysis on what our public infrastructure and monopolies were sold off for over the years and what the value and lost return would have been. I might be a touch cynical but MacBank do seem to have done alright at the poor old tax-payers expense buying up airports and loading them up with debt and flogging them off to funds.