Deal in place to save face for Gutwein

  • Labor will not prolong the uncertainty out of respect for local government
  • Liberals waste two years picking fights when could have been getting on with job

Out of respect for the local government decision-making process, Labor will not prolong the uncertainty over water and sewerage.

This is despite serious concerns Labor holds about the deal and its impact on TasWater’s viability.

Shadow Minister for Local Government, David O’Byrne, said the Bill was a political fix by Minister Peter Gutwein to save face after his TasWater takeover plans fell apart.

“The Liberals have wasted two years picking fights when they could have been getting on with the job of fixing Tasmania’s water and sewerage infrastructure,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“This deal provides not a single cent of new money for water and sewerage infrastructure, despite funnelling $200 million of taxpayers’ money into the business.

“The information memorandum provided to owner Councillors by TasWater shows the business crippled by more debt, lower revenue and higher interest costs.”

Specifically, the deal:

  • Does not provide a real cost decrease for TasWater customers
  • Provides no extra funding for water and sewerage infrastructure
  • Violates TasWater’s long term financial plan, moving its interest cover ratio out of recommended parameters
  • Creates a governance nightmare with a complicated ownership structure
  • Provides no dividend certainty for Councils
  • Erodes the independent role of the Economic Regulator

“Astonishingly the deal delivers $200 million of taxpayers’ money into TasWater, but costs the company $236 million on lost revenue over the life of the deal,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“The water and sewerage industry is telling me that it desperately needs funding for new infrastructure like fixing the Launceston combined system, Macquarie Point and a host of regional projects.

“Countless reports have reaffirmed this. Yet the government will burn $200 million of taxpayers’ money not investing in Tasmania’s future.”