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True Cost of Liberals' TasWater Plan

Andrea Dawkins

Andrea Dawkins  -  Monday, 1 May 2017

Tags: Sewerage, Water

Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens' Water spokesperson 

The Liberals' highly political plan to takeover TasWater has received another blow today, with Chair Miles Hampton exposing the high cost Tasmanians will pay for the Liberals' plan.

Mr Hampton has issued a statement outlining the financial implications of the government’s plan for Taswater, most concerning of all the announcement that it would result in $600 million of extra debt to be carried by Tasmanian households.

The TasWater Chair also raises legitimate concerns that funding will be taken out of hospitals and schools to pay Councils a dividend out of the consolidated fund or public account.

On its face, $600 million of extra debt for a $1.5 billion project in order to speed up the timeline is a huge extra financial burden for Tasmanians to carry.

According to Mr Hampton, the government’s plan would only reduce the rollout time from 10 years to nine, or at best, eight and a half.  Taking on extra debt worth 40% of the project's cost in order to shave off 10% of the time taken for the upgrade is clearly inefficient, impractical, and unaffordable.

This is staggering given the government’s refusal to contribute $10 million per year when they first came to office in order to ensure all Tasmanians have potable water.

Mr Gutwein’s parliamentary stunt where he used a bottle of undrinkable water as a prop is an example of the cheap and disingenuous politics that has resulted in an erosion of trust in governments and democracy across the world.

Those who attended Miles Hampton’s Economic Society of Tasmania address last week, which unfortunately did not include any Liberal or Labor MPs, would also have heard of TasWater’s safety concerns.

TasWater's plan is meticulously and apolitically formulated involving complex issues of geography, human capital, resources and risk assessment which has been approved by the Economic Regulator and the EPA.

The Liberals have failed to explain basic components of their plan, instead offering us a slogan of 'completed in 5 years'.

Mr Hampton explained that it is not as simple as throwing more money to accelerate the program, and that accelerating the program in this manner could jeopardise quality and safety standards and completely undermine the financial projections the business case is built upon.

The government’s TasWater policy may look like a relatively harmless political stunt, but if the Liberals took the time to consult the experts they would have realised that their “plan” could slug Tasmanians with massive debt, rip money out of public services and compromise an important, expensive and sensitive rollout of essential public infrastructure.