Premier Anna Bligh is not serious about finding a solution to water price increases in South East Queensland say SEQ Mayors and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ).
One month after writing to the Premier seeking a meeting to discuss the State Government’s proposal to allow councils to opt out of the current water reform model, SEQ Mayors are still being told that there is no room in the Premier’s diary for them.
Council of Mayors (SEQ) Chairman Councillor Graham Quirk said the snub by the Premier means that councils are in no position to consider the proposed legislation by the State Government.
“In a letter dated 8 April 2011, SEQ Mayors formally requested a meeting with the Premier to discuss the consequences of her policy announcement on water,” said Cr Quirk.
“Parliament is sitting this week which is a golden opportunity for the Premier to find time to meet with SEQ Mayors. We can go and meet her there.
“The fact that she has not yet found time to discuss the issue of water price increases with SEQ Mayors tells us that the State Government’s proposal on water is a political ploy, not sound water policy.”
Cr Quirk said the Premier has been in the South East Queensland region for more than two-thirds of the past month.
“Cost of living pressures across the SEQ region are of great concern to SEQ residents; the water pricing issue goes right to the heart of the matter and must be addressed by the Premier herself.
“SEQ Mayors have been offered meetings with Minister Robertson and Council of Mayors (SEQ) and LGAQ executive staff met with the Minister on 11 April 2011.
“However given Minister Robertson’s history of political game playing, SEQ Mayors have made it clear that a meeting with the Premier personally would be the best course of action to progress discussion on water reform.”
The Local Government Association of Queensland has also been waiting on the Premier for a response to a report that shows how the Government could achieve real savings on water bills of at least $80 annually for residents by adopting more realistic depreciation and debt repayment schedules for its water grid assets.
LGAQ Executive Director Greg Hallam said the report was provided to the Premier prior to her April 6 announcement.
“We provided the report to the State Government in the interests of resolving the blame game over water,” he said.
“We have always been upfront with this Government on water reform and have shared our thoughts on policy with the Premier and various ministers.
“Ms Bligh has not only ambushed SEQ councils with her extraordinary turnaround on water, she has compounded this lack of leadership by refusing to meet with the region’s mayors to talk about the detail of her policy reversal.”