The Tasmanian State Government has put forward a plan to take ownership of TasWater in 2018.
The Government plans on taking control from 1 July 2018 and complete the remainder of the $1.5 billion capital program over a five year period.
Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman, and Treasurer, Peter Gutwein said the takeover is an effort to fix Tasmania’s failing water and sewage infrastructure.
Mr Hodgman and Mr Gutwein said that the current situation is not acceptable, with 25 towns on boil water or do not consume alerts, sewage spills seven times over the national average, and only one of 78 sewage treatment plants fully compliant with Environmental Protection Authority standards.
“Tasmania is a world class destination with third world water and sewerage services,” Mr Hodgman said.
“Clean water and a reliable sewerage service are important for public health, quality of lifestyle, our tourism industry, our brand and our economy.
“Regardless of the failings of the system, prices are forecast to dramatically increase for Tasmanian homes and businesses.
“Tasmanians will have to pay more for inadequate services and infrastructure.
“Reform of the sector back in 2008 was supposed to fix the many significant issues. It hasn’t.
“The model, where TasWater is owned by 29 separate councils is not a success story.
“That’s why the Government is proposing a new model, where the State Government takes on responsibility for, and control of, TasWater,” Mr Hodgman said.
Mr Gutwein said that under the Government’s plan, TasWater’s infrastructure will be fixed faster and it will be cheaper for customers.
“Importantly, instead of forecast price rises of five per cent per year, price rises when we assume control will be no more than 3.5 per cent, which means that Tasmanians will save money under our plan,” Mr Gutwein said.
“Under State Government ownership, TasWater’s strong balance sheet will be used to borrow more and at a lower cost.
“The Government will also use its strong financial position to provide additional support if required.
“Returns to councils will be guaranteed until 2024-25. They will get every cent they were expecting so there is absolutely no reason for councils to increase rates as a consequence.
“Legislation will prohibit the future privatisation of TasWater and no one will lose their job as a result of this change of ownership.
“Concessions to low income Tasmanians and pensioners remain as they are, firmly in place.
“I will provide further information to Parliament tomorrow and councils will be consulted during the transition.
“To be clear, this has nothing to do with council amalgamations. It simply is about fixing a serious problem.”