The West Australian government is hoping to raise $6 billion over the next three years through asset sales to reduce the state’s crippling debt levels and regain its AAA credit rating.
Market City in Canning Vale and port handling facilities in Port Hedland and Kwinana were the first three assets listed for sale and could fetch up to $2 billion.
Premier Colin Barnett said the priority was to regain the state’s AAA credit rating, which was dropped last year by Standard and Poor’s and this week by Moody’s Investors Service.
“This is not a fire sale. This is not a panic response,” he told reporters on Thursday.
WA’s net debt is at $22 billion and the premier said he would like it to hover at about $20 billion.
The port assets were likely to be sold as long-term leases, Mr Barnett said.
Port Hedland’s Utah Point Bulk Handling facility is one of four berths owned by the Pilbara Ports Authority and includes a shiploader, two stockyard product storage facilities and other infrastructure.
In 2012-13, it earned $86.5 million in revenue, with $44.1 million in expenditure.
The Kwinana Bulk Terminal is owned and operated by the Fremantle Port Authority, exporting and importing bulk products including coal, iron ore, liquefied petroleum gas and cement clinker.
In 2012-13, total revenue was $61.6 million, with total operating costs of $36 million.
The Perth Market Authority operates Market City in Canning Vale, which undertakes the marketing and distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables in WA.
A condition of the sale would be the ongoing operation of the markets, Mr Barnett said.
Details of the first round of land sales will be announced in the next few weeks.
Mr Barnett said the Princess Margaret Hospital site was among several likely land sales.
“There’s several hospital sites that will come up, there’s also a lot of what’s described in government as lazy land – land owned publicly that is really ripe for development,” he said.
“We’re keen to see inner-city land sold and encourage higher-density development.”
Mr Barnett said next year’s budget would be difficult, but blamed the commonwealth for not changing WA’s GST share.
“We are getting increasingly angry about it and intolerant of the shifting to one side of this issue by the federal government,” he said.
But opposition spokesman Ben Wyatt said the state government was to blame for the debt problem and said asset sales were a short-term solution that would not restore the state’s AAA rating.
“It’s like taking your TV down to Cash Converters in order to make your next mortgage payment,” he said.