The State Government’s proposed takeover of TasWater is likely the biggest political confidence trick attempted in Tasmania in living memory, according to the local government leader charged with representing the sector on the water and sewerage business.
TasWater’s Chief Owners’ Representative, Northern Midlands Mayor David Downie, said the Government has provided no financial modelling and no engineering plans to support its takeover bid, is offering miserable compensation to the owner councils and there are serious legal doubts about its ability to even seize the business.
“They are conning the community” says Cr Downie.
“While the Treasurer Peter Gutwein rants against local government for seeking funds to fight his illconsidered takeover plan, he has no hesitation in wasting Tasmanian taxpayer funds to pay-off councils and meet unnecessary borrowing costs.”
“He criticises the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) for asking councils to contribute to its campaign to ward off his potentially illegal bid, but has no qualms spending taxpayer dollars on statewide press and radio advertisements to push his own agenda.”
“What’s more, Mr Gutwein has only offered councils a measly six cents in the dollar for an asset that he values at $3 billion, an asset that has been built up and paid for by ratepayers.
“The owner councils have a responsibility to protect this, and the small amount they may or may not contribute to a campaign of opposition is insignificant when compared to the value of the TasWater asset.
“At least councils have a choice to contribute to the campaign, unlike taxpayers who have no say in what Mr Gutwein spends their money on.”
Cr Downie said the Treasurer could only resort to political spin, misleading claims and personal abuse to support his TasWater bid.
“The overwhelming majority of councils are not swayed by his confidence tricks and through the proposed LGAT information campaign, the Tasmanian community will very quickly become aware of his deficiencies as well as those in his TasWater takeover bid.