News

Schwarten warned Bligh asset sales could spell disaster

FORMER Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten said he warned then-Premier Anna Bligh what would happen if she pushed ahead with asset sales.

And his prediction the party would be lucky to end up with a dozen seats proved accurate after the disastrous 2012 election result.

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Mr Schwarten spoke to The Morning Bulletin after Anna Bligh's autobiography, Through the Wall, was released yesterday.

A southern media outlet reported the former Premier blamed the 2012 election result on the 2010 health payroll scandal and fights with unions over asset sales.

She also said a fed-up public and uncertainty over leadership at a federal level with Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were negative influences on the campaign.

Mr Schwarten, who was Minister for Public Works and Information and Communication in the Bligh Government, said he took responsibility for the health payroll system after Ms Bligh handled it directly in Treasury.

He said any criticism of the bungled payroll system was an indictment on Ms Bligh's work in Treasury.

"I don't know who she's seeking to blame for that, certainly it didn't do us any favours," Mr Schwarten said.

On asset sales, Mr Schwarten said it was not privatisation itself that caused so much trouble, but the perceived breach of trust among voters and unions.

But Mr Schwarten said it wasn't either of these issues in particular which saw the government defeated.

He said there was a general feeling the government wasn't performing well and had been in office too long.

"Certainly from my perspective it was the worst three years I put in government," he said. "I didn't enjoy my time in the Bligh government."

Mr Schwarten said Ms Bligh, like every Premier, had her strengths and weaknesses.

He said she was "faultless" in handling the 2011 floods and Cyclone Yasi, but surrounded herself with people who agreed with her.

Mr Schwarten said contrary points of view were needed in leadership, but Ms Bligh didn't take advice from those outside her inner circle.

Topics:  anna bligh australian labor party politics robert schwarten



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