Some business people examining documents at a desk.

The New South Wales Government has successfully passed legislation to protect Sydney Water and Hunter Water from privatisation through the Legislative Council.

Both Sydney Water and Hunter Water are statutory state-owned corporations and will be safeguarded from privatisation with the passage of the Constitutional Amendment (Sydney Water and Hunter Water) Bill 2023.

The successful passage of the bill on Thursday 1 June amends the Constitution Act to now require those two specific corporations, and their main undertakings, to remain in public ownership by ensuring that those entities may not be sold or disposed of.

The new provisions of the act prevent governments from selling off Sydney Water and Hunter Water. Only an Act of Parliament will be able to undo the privatisation protections.

In securing the passage of the bill, the New South Wales Government has agreed, with the support of the crossbench, to establish a parliamentary inquiry that will examine what can be done to safeguard and support other regional water utilities. This includes preventing privatisation, and an examination of any additional protections these assets might require now and into the future.

The joint select committee for the parliamentary inquiry will inquire into and report on the governance systems and regulatory and assurance framework for local water utilities and will consult with local government.

New South Wales Premier, Chris Minns, said, “Before the election I made a commitment to protect Sydney Water in the constitution. Today my government has delivered on that promise.

“These two state owned corporations are crucial assets to how we live in New South Wales – they provide so many of us with the water we drink and use each day that it is simple common sense to lock in their public ownership and protect them from privatisation.

“With this new legislation we have effectively put a sphere of protection around both entities, preventing privatisation, preventing unreasonable price spikes and ensuring these essential assets will always belong to the people of New South Wales.”

New South Wales Minister for Water, Rose Jackson, said, “Today we have delivered on our election commitment to keep Sydney and Hunter Water in public hands.

“I want to thank the crossbench for their constructive involvement in this matter, and I am keen to hear what the Parliamentary Inquiry finds in terms of how we can better protect other regional water assets and secure the future of water services to all parts of New South Wales.

“This inquiry will be focussed on uncovering what our government can do to better support our water assets. We will be guided by the voices of our community and locals on the ground on how to best do this.

“This inquiry is just another example of how we are taking a serious approach to a serious issue and putting the views of the New South Wales people – in the case of this Inquiry, the people of regional New South Wales – front and centre in all our policy making decisions.”

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