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TasWater council owners approve state government buy-in

The Tasmanian Government will inject $200 million into TasWater over the next decade in return for a 10% share in the utility.

TasWater Chief Owners’ Representative and Mayor of Northern Midlands Council David Downie said TasWater’s owners – Tasmania’s 29 local governments – had voted overwhelmingly to support the move.

It comes after more than 18 months of back and forth between TasWater and the State Government over ownership of the utility.

Premier Will Hodgman told parliament in March 2017 his government planned to take over TasWater, arguing this would help lower water bills without councils having to increase rates.

The proposal was rejected by the Upper House in November last year, after 23 councils voted against the takeover. The councils called on the State Government to instead work with TasWater to implement the utility's 10-year, $2 billion plan to upgrade its infrastructure.

Part of this plan included removing boil water alerts across the state, which TasWater accomplished in August of this year.

Downie said the buy-in would ensure the State Government, local government and TasWater would work cooperatively to improve Tasmania’s water and sewerage services.

“The injection of $20 million each year into TasWater for 10 years will enable water and sewerage charges to be contained with prices frozen for a year from 1 July 2019 and further annual increases capped at 3.3% until 30 June 2025,” he said.

TasWater Chairman Miles Hampton said the vote represented a vote of confidence in the utility from councils. He said the injection of cash would allow the utility to keep price increases lower than they otherwise would be.

The new TasWater ownership structure is expected to be in place by the start of 2019.