QUEENSLAND Premier Anna Bligh sent a clear message to Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) today - live with the decision to split from water retailer Allconnex.
Bligh had the power to overrule the decision, but in accepting councillors’ 8-7 vote to divorce Allconnex, the future of the company beyond July 1 next year is in serious doubt.
Logan and Redlands councils still utilise the services of Allconnex but are unlikely to keep the company afloat without the Gold Coast’s support – the major stakeholder.
Bligh respects GCCC’s verdict and now says ‘they need to live with the consequences’.
“We gave South East Queensland councils the opportunity to take back their water businesses so they could take some responsibility on this issue,” she says.
“Gold Coast City Council will now have to prove to their ratepayers what they have been saying all along. That is, that they can provide water cheaper by taking back the water business under the council banner.”
Water Utilities Minister Stephen Robertson hoped the GCCC considered the interests of the local community with the decision.
“They need to clearly demonstrate to their ratepayers what the cost of water will be going forward, under their chosen structure. The judge and jury will be the ratepayers of the Gold Coast,” he says.
“If Gold Coast residents are not happy with the Council's decision or the price path put forward next Monday, then they have an opportunity to make this known at the next local government election.”
Robertson says the State Government will now draft legislation allowing councils to demerge from their water distributor-retailers.
“The State Government will now get on with the job of working with councils to continue these reforms and work towards providing fairer water prices for South east Queenslanders,” he says.
“The Bligh Government is doing all we can to put downward pressure on water prices including introducing a CPI cap over the next two years and announcing a proposal to allow Councils to have representation on their water boards.”
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