The Tasmanian Government has released the draft legislation it will present to Parliament in order to take over TasWater.
The legislation aims to lock in cheaper prices, better infrastructure and guarantee payments to councils.
In anticipation for the legislation, Tasmanian Treasurer, Peter Gutwein, travelled around Tasmania talking to communities about issues that affect them, including water and sewerage.
“It’s clear that Tasmanians are not happy with how their water and sewerage system is being managed,” Mr Gutwein said.
“They are not happy about the prospect of significant price rises for water and sewerage infrastructure that is simply not up to scratch and they are not happy about Labor and some local councils being so out of touch on this issue.
“TasWater’s assets don’t belong to councils, they belong to the people of Tasmania.
“It was the people of Tasmania that paid for them and it is the people of Tasmania that suffer when they are deteriorating faster than they can be replaced as pointed out by Tasmania’s Economic Regulator in his most recent report.”
This legislation means that the Hodgman Government will become responsible for and will manage water and sewerage infrastructure on behalf of all Tasmanians, at a lower cost to Tasmanians.
This legislation establishes a new Government Business Enterprise responsible for providing water and sewerage services in Tasmania.
The draft bill has been prepared by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to give effect to the Government’s plan to transfer ownership and responsibility for the State’s water and sewerage industry to the State Government.
The Government has sought advice from the Solicitor-General on the draft Bill and are confident that the provisions of the draft Bill will withstand any potential legal challenge to its validity.
The draft Bill requires the new government business to develop a ten year infrastructure investment plan, which requires the approval of the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industries and Water. The Bill also gives powers of direction over the new government business to the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industries and Water.
The draft Bill also sets out the arrangements for payments to councils and prohibits the privatisation of the new government business.
The draft Bill requires the Regulator to continue to be responsible for all non-price economic regulation. All customer service standards, codes and policies of the new government business, or any other regulated entity, require the approval of the Regulator.
The Government’s plan has the support of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Property Council, TasCOSS, the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania, the Master Builders Association, and the Tasmanian Small Business Council.