Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has been out banging the drum calling
on more people in Melbourne and Sydney to make donations to those
struggling in the aftermath of Cyclone Larry.

Given the large subsidies that Victoria and NSW already make to
Queensland through the GST carve-up, this is a bit rich, especially
when you consider that Queensland is easily the richest Australian
state.

For instance, I’ll be heading along to tomorrow’s shareholder vote for
the Melbourne-based Australian Energy which the Queensland
government-owned power company, Ergon Energy, wants to buy for $103
million or $1.95 a share. However, the scheme of arrangement vote will
probably go down because Melbourne’s billionaire Liberman family have
bought a 19% blocking stake.

At a time when Queensland should be devoting its $100 billion-plus
balance sheet to restoring power and other services in FNQ, it does
seem a little odd that a state-owned utility is proposing to venture
south of the border and spend $103 million.

Of course, it was only last month that Queensland Rail participated in
the $1 billion carve-up of ARG, which gave the Beattie government a
large interest in Western Australia’s rail system.

If a state is so rich that is can splash hundreds of millions on expanding
government-owned utilities interstate, surely it doesn’t have to cry
poor and plead for more donations by private citizens in Melbourne and
Sydney.

Sydneysiders already put up with taxes that are about 40% higher than those of their northern neighbours.

Finally, it would be interesting to know how much Peter Cosgrove is
being paid by Queensland and Federal taxpayers for his work over the
next six months. Cosgrove is already on a very tidy pension and is
picking up more than $100,000 from his position on the Qantas board.
When you ask Cosgrove to speak, his agents want a fee of $20,000 plus
two business class airfares and 5-star accommodation.

What did his agent ask for when Peter Beattie rang a few days ago?

Peter Fray

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