LNP calls Labor 'hypocritical' for questioning QR outsourcing

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson. Tom Huntley

THE Queensland Opposition has been accused of hypocrisy for slamming the government's decision to outsource rail maintenance in regional Queensland when it did the same thing three years ago.

Labor's contracts for the outsourcing of track maintenance for parts of the Queensland Rail network in central Queensland are set to expire in June.

Advertisements calling for tenders to take over the installation, maintenance, repair and emergency call-out services for signalling and trackside equipment will feature in newspapers over the weekend.

The tracks subject to outsourced maintenance are between Rockhampton to Home Hill, Bundaberg to Gladstone and Nogoa to Longreach.

Contracts to maintain the 1200km of track were put in place under the Labor Government in 2010.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said it was hypocritical for the Opposition to challenge its decision to test out outsourcing regional rail maintenance.

"It's hypocritical for Labor to challenge our use of contestability as a measure of performance when it simply handed responsibility for maintenance to private companies," he said.

"Labor didn't test the market or try to improve reliability; it simply sold the profit-making section of Queensland Rail and outsourced maintenance."

This week the Newman Government accepted a Commission of Audit recommendation that government maintenance of region rail lines be subject to "contestability".

The new buzz word circulating the LNP means the government will see if the private sector can provide a service better than the government can.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk questioned in Parliament this week how the government was to ensure public safety if the safety and maintenance of the rail network was outsourced.

Tenders to carry out the maintenance work for the central Queensland tracks will close on June 3.

"We want Queensland Rail to reach a position where it delivers better and more efficient services than the private sector," Mr Emerson said.