More than six in ten Queenslanders have thrown their support behind the idea of selling assets to pay for new infrastructure, a survey from a leading industry body has found.
Conducted by JWS Research and commissioned by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and the Infrastructure Association of Queensland, the research looked at awareness of different funding options as well as views on the efficacy of current infrastructure planning and funding, priorities for infrastructure investments and preferred funding models to increase infrastructure delivery.
It found that whilst the community were less aware of asset recycling as a funding model for public infrastructure delivery (the others being borrowing money, increasing taxation or state levies and charges), this along with special levies and charges proved to be the most popular method once the concept was explained to them.
All up, only 36 percent of those surveyed were aware of asset recycling as a funding option, compared with 62 percent, 60 percent and 54 percent who were aware of borrowing money, increasing tax and special levies respectively.
When asset recycling was explained, however, it had the strongest support of any of the options.
All up, 61 percent either strongly or somewhat supported the notion of asset recycling after the concept had been adequately explained, against 28 percent who either somewhat or strongly opposed.
By contrast, borrowing money and greater taxation were not supported, with 70 and 66 percent opposed against 22 and 26 percent in support with each of these options respectively.
Special levies and charges were also supported, with 61 percent in support against 30 percent in opposition.
When asked to select a preferred method at the exclusion of all others, almost half (46 percent) of all Queenslanders chose asset recycling and 29 percent chose special levies.
The results come amid the lead-up to the next election, which has to be held prior to May next year.
Both major parties remain opposed to the sale of public assets following disastrous electoral results delivered by the Newman led LNP government in 2014 and the Bligh led Labour Government prior to that.
Nevertheless, the new results may well signal that public attitudes toward the idea of selling assets to pay for new ones could be warming notwithstanding the relatively low levels of awareness which exist in relation to this type of financing.
Pressure to examine this further could grow as gross state debt levels of $72.840 billion make further borrowing less palatable.
In respect of concerns which are commonly associated with selling assets, 74 percent believed of respondents to the aforementioned survey believe that suitable protections could ensure limits on foreign ownership whilst long term leasing could enable tight controls to be maintained over necessary service delivery.
Moreover, around three quarters of those surveyed believe that jobs can be created by reinvesting the proceeds of asset recycling into new infrastructure, that asset recycling enables the development of new infrastructure without having to borrow more money or raise taxes and that it can allow for investment in new income generating assets.