Treasurer Koutsantonis has been severely embarrassed by today’s revelation the Weatherill Government will be applying for money under the Federal Government’s 15 per cent asset recycling grant scheme.
Evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee by Treasury head Brett Rowse confirmed the Government would be applying for the bonus after its decision to privatise the Motor Accident Commission.
“Mr Rowse made it clear the MAC privatisation, with the funds going into the Highway fund, will comply with the guidelines and would mean an extra $150 million to South Australia if the net proceeds were $1 billion,” said Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas.
“However, in March when Mr Hockey outlined the proposal, Mr Koutsantonis was publicly very vocal in opposing it and indicated South Australia would not be applying for funds because there would be no privatisations.”
Mr Koutsantonis made strident statements at the time including the following on 5AA on 31 March 2014:
“… so for the first time in Federation, since our Federation we’ve got a Commonwealth Government that is excluding states that refuse to participate in Liberal party ideology of asset sales in exchange for a 15% bonus, now quite frankly if the South Australian public find out exactly what Chris Pyne and Joe Hockey have got planning, they’d be very, very upset indeed, I’ll go as far as to say this, they were hoping that that Treasurer’s conference that it would be all Liberal states and that all those Liberal states would agree to privatise their assets in exchange for a 15% fee.”
“It is now clear whilst Mr Koutsantonis was leading the opposition to this proposal and pretending he was against privatisations, he was secretly planning to privatise the MAC and gain access to these extra Federal funds,” said Mr Lucas.
“In fact, Mr Rowse indicated the Weatherill Government had commenced work on this MAC privatisation proposal early in 2013.
“Mr Rowse also indicated whilst they had estimated conservatively $500 million might be returned to Treasury from the scheme, a total of somewhere between $1 billion and $1.5 billion was possible depending on the investment performance over the next two years.
“Total proceeds to the state from this 15 per cent scheme could be between $150 million and $225 million.
“The hypocrisy of Mr Weatherill and Mr Koutsantonis on this privatisation issue is simply stunning.
“They both stand condemned for their massive breach of faith with the electorate.”