The South Australian Government has announced it will establish a new department to protect all publicly owned electricity and water assets if re-elected in 2018.

In Labor’s first election pledge of the campaign, the Energy and Water Services Department (E&SW) will oversee water and sewerage assets currently held by SA Water, and energy assets such as the new publicly owned power plant.

E&WS would de-corporatise the state’s water supply and ensure decisions relating to publicly owned assets are made in the long-term best interests of South Australians, and not driven purely by financial considerations.

According to Premier, Jay Weatherill, currently SA Water could be privatised by a future government without parliamentary approval.

“We now have an opportunity with a new E&WS to bring together our publicly owned assets and protect them for all South Australians for the long term,” Mr Weatherill said.

The department will also use the increasing synergies between energy and water, with technologies such as pumped hydro, floating solar panels and generating electricity from biogas at wastewater treatment plants.

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