Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
On Tuesday you were crowing about the cut to headworks charges for developers - corporate welfare, by any other name, and subsidised by taxpayers. Yesterday, in an act of extreme political cynicism, your Treasurer issued not so veiled threats to councils not to lift their rates to cover the loss of dividends from TasWater. On the one hand your Government is giving a free ride to developers at the expense of taxpayers.
On the other, it is offering lip service to rate payers who, you surely acknowledge, will face increased rates. On top of this, because your Government has refused to take any responsibility for water and sewerage failings and has offered no support to TasWater, it is clear Tasmanians will pay up to 30 per cent more for their water and sewerage bills. Why is your Government continuing to give a free ride to developers while allowing the cost of living for water and sewerage, rates and recently electricity soar for Tasmanian households?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. This Government is very proudly pro-development and pro-economic growth. The things you have been complaining about and criticising us for are matters that go to improving economic growth and bringing forward developments which occurred when we introduced our headworks charges relief. It brought forward developments. Mr Vos, one of Tasmania's prominent business and industry leaders, made that comment. I know the Leader of the Opposition does not believe it. He has in this place called Mr Vos a liar, but that is what Mr Vos said. It brought forward development we are now seeing come to light on Hobart's waterfront, and others.
We will always look at ways to stimulate economic activity, after the economy was left to us in a state of recession by a LaborGreens government. Things were certainly a lot worse under a Labor-Greens governments than they are now.
The facts are that TasWater and its owners are responsible for providing water and sewerage services across the state. As much as you would like to blame the state Government for it, those are the facts. It does not mean we will not work with TasWater and their owners to establish these issues.
The corporation was established principally with a view to addressing these non-compliance issues that have existed for some time. They need to be fixed to support public health and our brand and to support those communities suffering under boiled water alerts. We congratulate the TasWater board for showing leadership and proposing a way forward. We look forward to working with them and other stakeholders, including councils. We are committed to working with them to fix the problem.
We do not believe there should be a rates increase as a result. We have explained why that is so given councils' strong balance sheets and their capacity to manage this without increasing rates or reducing services. We believe it is eminently possible for them to do that. We will continue to work with them, and this is a matter of priority.
I want to point to some loose comments from the Leader of the Opposition, as usual, when he was asked, in relation to these matters, yesterday in a radio interview what he would do if he were premier. We are already doing what he said he would do, so he can relax.
We have been working with TasWater and with councils on these issues. We have raised this matter with the federal government and the Prime Minister directly. It was raised as a matter at the last joint Tasmanian and Commonwealth Economic Council. If the Leader of the Opposition would to look on the Infrastructure Australia website he would see it is already listed as a priority. The Leader of the Opposition should stop complaining about things he wants us to do and should accept that we are doing it.