State Govt political games on water must stop: SEQ Mayors

03 / May / 2011 | News

SEQ Mayors have called on Premier Anna Bligh to stop playing political games and end the secrecy and deception over water pricing.

Council of Mayors (SEQ) Chairman Councillor Graham Quirk said today that it was time for the State Government to take responsibility for the mess created by the State’s water reform model.

“I am sick and tired of the political blame game this State Government continues to play on water,” he said.

“It’s time the Premier took responsibility for her government making a complete mess of our water bills and come up with a genuine plan to clean it up.

“The State Government has doubled bulk water prices since 2008 and will double them again by 2018. It can extend the repayments of its bulk water assets over a more practical timeframe to achieve a significant reduction in household water bills.”

Cr Quirk said the fundamental problem was that the State Government’s plan to cap the retail water prices was not extended to capping State Government bulk water charges.

“State Government bulk water charges are the main driver of water price increases in South East Queensland and have increased 141 per cent in three years,” Cr Quirk said.

“What the Premier is really proposing is capping the price Councils can sell water to ratepayers without also capping the price the State Government will sell bulk water to Councils.”

Cr Quirk said the Premier now wanted Councils to wear the cost of shutting down water retailer companies.

“This is a recipe for disaster and would cost Brisbane ratepayers $58 million alone and has the potential to send other smaller Councils broke,” he said.

“Ratepayers would also suffer as Councils would be forced to cut investment in better water pipes and treatment plants or raise rates to cover any shortfall. Neither of these outcomes would be a good deal for ratepayers.”

Cr Quirk said SEQ Mayors were still waiting on detail from the Premier following the State’s back flip on water reform. Premier Bligh announced in early April that State Government legislation would be changed to allow Councils to opt out of the State Government’s failed water reform model.

“The State Government is demanding Councils rush their decision on a matter that will have significant financial impacts for us, yet they will not give us a copy of the proposed content of the legislation,” he said.

“This reeks of secrecy and deception. Without that information, the Council of Mayors (SEQ) is in no position to consider the legislation proposed by the State Government.

“What is clear is that the State Government’s proposal on water is a political ploy, not sound water policy.”