LNP rules out power asset sales

Stuart Layt

Queensland's Liberal National Party opposition has strongly ruled out selling off Queensland power generators in line with the recommendations of the ACCC's report into power prices.

That's despite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggesting it could be the best way to drive down prices due to increased competition in the sector.

A report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommends a major overhaul to the national electricity sector to bring down bills and restore consumer confidence.

It singled out the Queensland government, which owns two power generators.

"The Queensland government should divide its generation assets into three generation portfolios to reduce market concentration," the report says.

"Once created, the Queensland government should ensure that the three portfolios are separately owned and operated to maximise competition in the wholesale electricity market."

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington on Wednesday welcomed the ACCC's support for her plan to split the generators from two to three, but strongly rejected any suggestion some of those generators would then be sold.

"We've already ruled that out," Ms Frecklington told reporters.

Mr Turnbull told a Queensland Media Club Lunch on Wednesday he supported Ms Frecklington, but said ultimately driving down power prices was his number one concern.

"State government ownership is not necessary, it's a matter for the state government to determine," the prime minister said.

"But the critical thing is to determine that there is real competition, and that the generators act responsibly and don't take advantage of the market power they have to game the system."

The state Labor government has rejected the ACCC's recommendation outright, claiming breaking up its assets would increase electricity bills.

Sale of public assets is a poisonous issue for Queensland politics since the Bligh Labor government was wiped out in the 2012 election campaigning on a platform of asset sales, while the Newman LNP government was defeated in 2015 while spruiking a policy of asset "leases".