Time to join forces – we just need it fixed

The Property Council of Australia today reiterated its long-held view that the State Government should take over the reins at TasWater.

Executive Director Brian Wightman said that the 2008 reforms should now be completed in full.

“We just need it fixed.

“State Government ownership of TasWater must be the preferred option as the local government sector continues to struggle to grasp the enormity of the task that we face as a State.

“The shared ownership model for TasWater clearly hasn’t worked.

“29 vested interests with conflicting agendas is not an ideal leadership model if you want improvement,” he said.

The Property Council called on four Northern Councils to join forces, as they have done before, to deliver a collaborative solution for ratepayers.

“Northern Midlands, West Tamar, and Meander Valley Councils should join with the Mayor of Launceston to provide a unified front advocating for a State Government TasWater takeover.

“Launceston City Council is the State’s largest owner of TasWater with a 13.62 per cent stake.  Improving the health of the Tamar River through State Government ownership is both a viable option and a long-term solution that is well understood at council level,” he said.

Mr Wightman again raised the regulatory compliance issues which provided damming evidence as to why action was urgently required.

“Northern Midlands West Tamar, Meander Valley and Launceston City Council all face significant challenges with regulatory compliance, and all contribute to the health of the Tamar Estuary.  2015 Environmental Protection Authority data succinctly highlights the reasons why a State Government takeover is the preferred option.

“The Margaret Street pump station spilled raw sewage into the Tamar Estuary 913 times in 2015.  That number is staggering and totally out of step with our clean green image.  If this isn’t a reason to act with haste, we’re not sure there is one,” he said.

The Property Council acknowledged the reassurances of the State Government regarding possible rates rises.

“The State Government has assured Tasmanians that an increase in rates and services charges won’t be the consequence of a takeover.

“It is time for bold action from the State Government to take control and be responsible for TasWater.  Through ownership, they can establish and deliver a 10-year capital investment and infrastructure plan for the State, delivering a major economic catalyst.  Delaying the inevitable takeover is just wasting time and opportunities.

“Four Northern councils have a wonderful opportunity to lead from the front and set the region up for generations. 

“They must join forces to ensure that the job enabling and job creating infrastructure, which finally deals with the most significant health and environmental issues we face as a community, is delivered as soon as possible,” Mr Wightman said.