The Final Report of the Legislative Council Select Committee on TasWater Ownership has confirmed that there is no crisis in the provision of Tasmania’s water and sewerage services, refuting the Government’s pretext for its planned takeover.
TasWater says the Select Committee report appears to provide a reasonable balance of the submissions made by interested parties.
It says the Committee has accurately reported the Corporation’s detailed evidence and has recognised the significant progress made in improving water and sewerage infrastructure and services since the reform began in 2008-09.
Chairman Miles Hampton said TasWater would now consider the report in detail, but it stood by its submission and did not believe the Government had provided any justification or basis for its proposed takeover.
“Importantly, among 48 findings, the Committee’s report determined there was no consensus of a crisis in the Tasmanian water and sewerage sector as claimed by the Government as its reasons for the takeover,” Mr Hampton said.
“While the Environment Protection Agency reported a downward trend in environment performance from sewerage treatment plants over the past five years, the Committee recognised differences in measurement metrics and also that TasWater and the EPA had established a memorandum of understanding regarding the prioritisation of environmental compliance issues.
“We are now continuing this infrastructure upgrading work as a high priority.
“The Committee reported that evidence suggested TasWater operates in a sustainable manner. Conversely, it says there was insufficient evidence to clearly demonstrate the veracity of the Government’s financial modelling with respect to long-term funding of Tasmania’s water and sewerage needs.
“As well, evidence suggested that there would be a significant cost from consolidated revenue to support a takeover of TasWater, with no short-term measurable savings as a result.”
Mr Hampton said the Select Committee confirmed that Tasmanian residential customers paid more than $300 a year below the national average for water and sewerage services.
It also confirmed the sustainability of some Tasmanian council services may be jeopardised if dividends from TasWater were reduced and council rates may have to be increased from 2025.
“There is nothing in the Select Committee report to justify the proposed State Government takeover.
“There are now three independent reports, from the Productivity Council, the Tasmanian Audit Office and now the Legislative Council Select Committee that show the takeover is neither justified nor appropriate.
“We now look to the Legislative Council to reject this flawed, ill-conceived and potentially costly legislation,” Mr Hampton said.