TasWater dismisses State Government takeover claims

Posted 19 September 2017

Water drop
TasWater has rejected the Tasmanian Government’s claim the state is facing a “water and sewerage crisis”, saying there is no justification for the proposed takeover of the water and sewerage business. 

In evidence to the Legislative Council Select Committee into TasWater’s ownership, TasWater Chairman Miles Hampton said the State Government’s claim was not supported by the facts. 

“[The claim] is at odds with the actions and judgement of industry regulators and should be dismissed out of hand,” Hampton said. 

“Further, the government’s claims that a new state government-owned water and sewerage business will result in lower prices, will be fairer to everyone and will deliver solutions faster does not stand up to scrutiny, and it is more likely that the opposite will be the case.” 

TasWater recommended the Legislative Council reject the government’s legislation on the basis that it was not sound, was based on a false premise and lack of due diligence, represented a high degree of risk and ignored the success of the current ownership and management structure. 

“The existing ownership and governance model protects TasWater from undue political influence in decision-making, facilitates the equitable allocation of resources across the state on a priority basis and is delivering tangible, measurable benefits for Tasmanians,” Hampton said. 

Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein has repeatedly defended the planned takeover, stating it is “the best way to reduce bills, improve services and fix the infrastructure.” 

Gutwein described the legislation’s passing through the Lower House last week as “the first step to Tasmanians receiving better water and sewerage services sooner and at lower prices, without putting upward pressure on rates”. 

But TasWater’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Brewster said the state already has the lowest litre-for-litre bills in the country and the highest grade of service when compared with  similarly-sized water utilities. 

“We have successfully merged three regional corporations into a single statewide operation and achieved national recognition as a leader in safety and staff development,” he said. 

“Effluent compliance has increased from 81.4% to 86%, recycled water compliance improved (69% to 79%), sewerage odour complaints reduced by 50%, increased beneficial use of biosolids (56% to 99.8%) and reduced the number of dry weather sewage spills by more than 50%.”
Read more in this TasWater Media Release or Fact Sheet.
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