- Friday 08 April 2011
“A blatant short-term political fix in an election year” is how Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot has described yesterday’s surprise announcement by the State Government to change its water distribution system.
“There is no doubt that yesterday’s announcement is policy on the run – a simplistic, short-sighted approach to address a political issue which does nothing to address the long-term spiralling cost of water in Queensland,” Cr Abbot said.
Cr Abbot said the Premier Anna Bligh had not consulted with local government or the community – those that will be most impacted by the changes that seem to now promise a “use now and then pay very heavily later” approach to water consumption.
“With very little detail, the Premier has announced changes to its expensive and dysfunctional $7 billlion water grid which will see no financial sacrifices being made by the State Government but plenty being made by local councils,” Cr Abbot said.
“In short, the State Government’s proposed cap on water prices contains no commitment to reduce bulk water charges, which are the major driver of water price increases.”
The proposal will see residents face higher water prices in the future as Sunshine Coast Council is denied the right to plan for future capital works spending on water networks needed to provide for a growing population.
“Under this proposal, the Government will continue to force residents to pay through the nose in double-quick time for a water grid that is not even being used properly,” Cr Abbot said.
“The Local Government Association of Queensland has commissioned an independent report which shows how the Government could achieve savings on water bills of up to $80 annually for residents by adopting a more realistic depreciation schedule for its water grid assets.
“However, the State Government’s proposal doesn’t even address these obvious methods of cutting costs – instead it abandons councils and their communities to cope with the pressures of growth alone.
“This council, alongside all SEQ Councils, will now be demanding further information from the State on this quick-fix policy.
“I will then be meeting with all my councillors next week to consider our options and a way forward that best meets the needs of our community both now and into the future.”