Tasmania backs its water plan
Infrastructure Tasmania has backed the State Government’s claim that it can fix TasWater’s ailing infrastructure by taking it over.
The Government plans to take control of the council-owned water and sewerage authority from July 1 next year, claiming it can clear a backlog of repairs and boil water alerts in just five years.
But councils and other opponents say the government’s timeframe is not achievable within reasonable costs.
Infrastructure Tasmania’s has issued a report reviewed by engineers at pitt&sherry that finds the accelerated infrastructure improvement plan is deliverable, if the Tasmanian Government provides adequate funding, resources and delivery model.
Infrastructure Tasmania looked at ways to condense TasWater’s 10-year plan into seven years, as TasWater has already made progress on the plan.
“The amount of expenditure in the condensed plan is substantial in the latter years, but we believe that it is achievable under a collaborative approach by the entire Tasmanian water industry sector,” pitt&sherry said, according to The Advocate newspaper.
Treasurer and Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein says his promises have been vindicated.
Labor Leader Rebecca White took a more cynical line.
“What we’ve got here is a report that’s been commissioned by the government of its government agency that tells it what it wants to hear,” she said.
“It feels a little bit like an episode out of Yes Minister to be honest.”
TasWater deputy chief owner representative Tony Bisdee said it was good to be going through the details, but that “there are a number of very broad underlying assumptions in the Infrastructure Tasmania report, including no financial constraints”.
“We would still like to see the government’s legal advice, as advice provided to TasWater, which has been publicly released, suggests the government does not have a legal basis for a takeover,” he said.
Mr Gutwein said councils should get out of the way.
He said the council-controlled model had only delivered one fully compliant sewage treatment works out of 79, but led to eight times the national average of outflows to the environment.
“This plan will get the job done quicker, it will be cheaper and, importantly at a local government level, there will be no need for any rate increases,” Mr Gutwein said.
“The simple fact is the 29-council model hasn’t worked.”