Regulator's claims revealed in SA
News Limited has published a resignation letter from the former CEO of South Australia’s water regulator.
Former Essential Services Commission of SA (ESCOSA) chief executive officer Doctor Paul Kerin has resigned, leading the newspaper outlet to embark on a six-month freedom of information request “battle” to find out why.
ESCOSA is designed to be an independent economic regulator for the price, quality and reliability of essential services in SA, including water and sewerage, electricity, gas, maritime and rail services.
In his resignation letter, Dr Kerin said he would not “waste the next four years of his life”
working for a government that was so disinterested in reform.
“The Government and its senior bureaucrats have clearly demonstrated that they have no interest in genuine reform, nor in serving the long-term interests of consumers,” he wrote.
“Indeed, they have stymied all efforts on those fronts at every turn.”
South Australia’s water prices have leapt up in recent years.
ESCOSA’s stats show consumers now pay more for drinking water than any others nationwide.
The indepdent regulator has been charged to undertake reforms, such as opening the market up to more retailers on the Government-owned SA Water network.
But The Government interfered and blocked ECOSA’s key measure – to overhaul water bills and more accurately reflect customer consumption levels.
It killed the effort just one month after giving ECOSA the authority to regulate prices.
South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis has rejected claims made in Dr Kerin’s letter, describing them as a “political” move.
Mr Koutsantonis said Dr Kerin wanted to see ECOSA as both asset owner and policy maker.
“That power should never be held in one office, unless we want to revert to some form of undemocratic government where elected officials have no say in policy and it's all outsourced to independent experts,” he said.