Private sector seeks SA water sale
An industry lobby says selling-off SA Water would raise up to $13 billion for the struggling South Australian economy.
Industry lobby group Civil Contractors Federation says the government-owned utility should be privatised to create jobs for SA, the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
“It is a drastic step, but these are drastic times the state finds itself in,” Civil Contractors Federation state branch chief executive Phil Sutherland said.
“Candidly, we don't believe the Government has much choice, if we are to drag South Australia out of the economic malaise it finds itself in.”
The lobby suggests the Government would be able to set up the right regulations, if it takes on lessons learned selling the state’s power company – the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA) - in the late 1990s.
The big electricity sale was undertaken by the Olsen Government as a way to drum up funds when the State Bank collapsed and left the government with huge amounts of debt.
“I would say that we could learn from that experience and make sure consumers were looked after and that we didn't see spiralling water costs,” he said.
“Regulation framework could be put around that and that would be a safeguard for our consumers.”
But Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said SA Water would not be sold.
“Unlike the Liberal Party, we will not sell off our essential utilities to an interstate or overseas monopoly,” Mr Koutsantonis told the ABC.
“In the driest state, in the driest continent, SA Water will remain SA-owned.”