Eastern Shore ratepayers could pay an extra $1.6M a year under the proposed water and sewerage reforms. Similar rises across the state would enable the State Government to fund infrastructure for corporate developments such as Gunn’s pulp mill, Federal Hotel’s exclusive Freycinet Lodge and the Ralph’s Bay development.

On the revenue side, the 3 new water corporations must operate commercially and a 7% return on assets has been suggested. Cities like Clarence currently operate on a cost-recovery return of around 4% with developers paying headworks charges for additional infrastructure.

On the expenditure side, the Treasurer will control the new corporations and determine their strategic projects. Deputy Premier Kons believes the $60M Gunn’s water and effluent pipes should be publicly owned (Merc 4/3) and Minister Wreidt has engaged a consultant to “develop a whole of government approach to tourism infrastructure and investment priorities to help guide State Government decision making”. (Merc. 28/3) $848M of tourism projects are being assessed, including $1.4M water and sewerage infrastructure for Federal Hotel’s exclusive resort.

With water and sewerage charges dramatically rising, mortgage-stressed working-families should be particularly concerned that they could be funding corporate infrastructure and water meters will ensure that families with children bear the brunt of the new profit making approach?

Legislative Councillors representing regional townships should seek assurances that the reforms will deliver potable water to Scamander, Dodges Ferry and Strahan and that there aren’t ‘secret deals’ for million dollar ‘free-kicks’ to wealthy developers to create a public asset that is ripe for privatisation.

Tony Mulder
Clarence City Councillor
0428 685 337


Tasmanian rate payers are the current owners of council’s water infrastructure so why would we want to give it away to the state government and in the not too distant future be paying much more for our water simply, to pay for a new level of bureaucracy to ‘manage’ the system? The people of Tasmania will be extremely disappointed when they realise that the state government’s promise to fix their water and sewage systems is hollow. The state government is only interested in controlling water and that’s why they are disappointed on water meters being installed. Meters will not supply us with any more water, just more paper work.

Our existing state management is the same government that divided our efficient HEC company into three sections and then leased off our dam storage and generation systems to the Basslink consortium. The lease for 25 years effectively gives the consortium control over the bulk water lake storage in Tasmania, to the detriment of our rural producers and communities. Basslink has resulted in massive debt to the state, as well as increasing power costs beyond the norm for ordinary power consumers.

The current state government should show some genuine leadership and vision and put forward a real solution to drought proof our communities by building two pipelines. One should extend from the Arthur River in the northwest, run along the north coast into the northeast and down the east coast of our island. The other pipe should come from the Derwent River, delivering additional water to both our Channel and Bruny Island districts as well as Sorell, and on-pumped up the east coast to interconnect with the water flow from the northern pipe line. Each of our council communities could either draw off and pay the predetermined fee to the state pipeline or pump excess water into the pipeline depending on their excess reserves or river flows. It is this pipeline that should be owned by the state and each council could be metered and charged accordingly, at the point of receiving the water from the pipe. Such a system would keep our local government in control of billing us for water, not the state government who could privatise it or use the control of water to force small councils under. The state government should not be given the right to determine water allocation, thereby effectively deciding which communities will be given development opportunities. For example, the government wants to allow a pulp company to have a huge volume of the people’s water. Strange how they can find and justify a quick 60 million dollars to build a pipeline when they want to. If this pipeline is necessary for that mill then why can’t the whole island have a pipeline going past them too? Maybe then we might be able to find the flow to give the Gunns’ shareholders some water. If Gunns helped build the pipeline from the Arthur River, as well as other major industry users along the way, the metering of these big players would help the government fund a program which would ensure that not only big companies, but our rural towns and farmers, would have access to water throughout each year. Tasmania is fortunate to have superior, clean flowing rivers to draw from - they simply need interconnecting with a decent pipe system. Our state is famous for the hydro engineering of our grandfathers. Surely we can find the skills to build a system that only syphons off excess water not needed for environmental flows and inject this water into reserves for our communities. Other Australian state governments are in denial mode, pretending to their people that they have water for the future. They do not. Mainland Australia is drying up and the people will have no choice other than to pay monthly water bills to cover the costs of desalination from the ocean. People will want to live on an island where they do not have to pay oil prices for water so let’s get our water on tap. The Romans did it centuries ago.

Mick Galpin


In a recent article Damon Thomas (Mercury, January 18) said in relation to water management that 'short-sighted self-interest must be set aside for the sake of community'. He is absolutely right about that, but then went on to make the extraordinary non sequitur that privatisation of water is the way to go. At a recent seminar on water in Hobart, an Australian expert on these issues, Dr Pat Ranald, presented strong evidence revealing that privatising water has been an unmitigated disaster. In Adelaide, United Water (a joint venture between Veolia, Thames Water and a local firm Kinhill) successfully tendered for the Adelaide system (despite submitting four hours after official closure time). Water prices rose by as much as 59 per cent. Fifteen months after the award to United by the then State Liberal Government, Adelaide was engulfed with the stench of sewage. United couldn't solve the problem and the government had to hire an independent investigator who could (he was an ex-employee of the previous public system). In Sydney, after Australian Water Services took over, in 1998 residents had to boil their water to kill parasites. The cause of the problems in both Adelaide and Sydney was downsizing staff to the extent that maintenance of equipment and monitoring was quite inadequate. An enquiry into the Sydney case concluded that providing water of the quality required for public health 'may be inconsistent with the profit motive.' Internationally, the record is even worse. In 2000, Forbes magazine claimed that water is ‘the oil of the twenty-first century’, after global water companies lobbied governments for privatisation. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund developed policies to make privatization of water services a condition of aid to developing countries. Eighty per cent of the water privatization projects in Africa were terminated over disputes over prices and investment levels. In Latin America, water privatisation occurred in several countries, leading to massive price increases of up to 150 per cent and ensuing public riots. Many companies have withdrawn from there, too, as predicted profits levels were not achieved. In 2006, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela made a joint declaration against the privatisation of water. Also in 2006, the World Development Movement recommended that the World Bank should stop privatisation and use best practice models of public water utilities. The World Bank, normally all for privatisation, had to agree. There is now a general consensus that private companies cannot or will not provide the infrastructure and workforce needed to maintain water quality at the standard demanded for public health. So no thank you, Damon Thomas, we do not want our water in Tasmania privatised. It is true that there are many problems in have so many local councils providing water, but that is a matter of structuring a better and accountable public delivery system, not turning the problem over to the private sector to solve. It won’t work.



The latest increase in electricity prices is outrageous and unjustified.  On my latest Aurora bill the energy price has increased from 16 cents per kilowatt-hour to 18.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, a 15% increase.
Tasmania’s two biggest electricity users, the zinc smelter in Hobart and the aluminium smelter at Bell Bay only pay (reportedly) about 3 cents per kilowatt hour (The Government keeps the true figure a secret).  Yet the owners of these operations, Rio Tinto and Nyrstar are both making extremely good profits as a result of historically high metal prices.

I resent being forced to cross-subsidise the big power users through my electricity charges.  
It is also appalling that in the commodity boom that we are experiencing two of Tasmania’s main commodities, forestry and electricity generation are paying no dividend to the Tasmanian people.
The implicit subsidy to the big electricity-users probably amounts to tens of millions of dollars each year.  
Gunns has just paid top dollar to buy former rival Auspine for its timber resource, but our State Government is virtually giving away timber from State-owned forests to Gunns.  Meanwhile Gunns is making a handsome profit for its shareholders.

Ordinary Tasmanians are being sold out by the Lennon Government’s subservience to big business.  I only hope it does not further sell us out by privatising Aurora or Transend.



Damon Thomas is quite right when he points out that the state government has done well to phase in competition for retail electricity (Letters, February 18) but what he fails to identify is the substantial increase in rates since the introduction of so-called competition. There is no benefit shifting from one monopoly. There is substantial evidence, worldwide, that the moment that water is privatised rates increase at an alarming rate and redress at the ballot box is equivocally circumvented. Private water companies are among the richest companies in the world, earning spots on the global Fortune 500 list, with revenue in excess of $US1000 billion per year and historically become monopolies in every international region they penetrate. There is not a shred of empirical evidence, globally, to suggest that market competition in the water market has made water cheaper for the householder to purchase and I would challenge Mr Thomas to provide independent evidence to suggest that this is the case.


As a Councillor in "Local Government" with a strong belief in the importance of communities having a say in matters that affect them,I have a responsibility to warn the ratepayers of Kingborough and all other Tasmanian Municipalities that the State Government's decision to take-over water and sewerage services will have the following impact.

1. AN INCREASE IN YOUR COUNCIL RATES- The loss of the income from water and sewerage services will mean other Council rates will need to increase because Council administration costs will be spread across fewer services. This could mean an increase in the rates of those who are not serviced by water and seweage. It could also mean a reduction in other services provided by Local Government

2. NEW EXTRA TAX FOR WATER AND SEWERAGE -The cost of running the new "Water and Sewerage Bureauracracy" and the cost of installing water meters to all households will need to be paid for either by you or by Debt which will be paid for with interest in the future. The cost of a water meter is about $200 per year per houshold.

3. LOSS OF LOCAL CONTROL IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT -As your local government will no longer have control of future water and sewerage the availability of future land for housing or for improved community facilities is uncertain.

4. LOSS OF COMMUNITY ASSETS -The water and sewerage infustructure has been paid for by the ratepayers of Kingborough over many years. The Tasmanian Government will take these community assets for nothing This represents a financial loss to each ratepayer of $8700.

- The new Water & Sewerage Corporation could be privatised by future State governments if not this one.

It alarms me that assets paid for and owned by local communities for decades could be lost and inform all readers that most of the Tasmania's water and sewerage problems could be addressed by local government if given the opportunity and without the need for State Government control.

I strongly advise all ratepayers to contact their local Council or Councillors so that they can be advised on how they will be personally affected by the Tasmanian Governments proposed action to takeover the running of water and sewerage services.

Peter Lindsay
Kingborough Councillor



Treasurer Michael Aird’s proposed corporate structure for water and sewerage has bypassed democratic endorsement by councils, which currently own the water and sewerage assets under threat.
Mr Aird’s recommendation includes three regionally based corporations answerable to parliament but which would merely report to councils, who would be the corporations’ owners.
Each of the corporations, called businesses by Mr Aird, would have six board members. Four of these six appointees would be common to all three corporations. No council representatives would be on the boards.
There is no precedent in Tasmania for this hybrid corporation arrangement. Ominously, there is no link to each council’s land-use planning process. These moves mirror efforts by state Labour governments elsewhere to take control of urban planning, particularly along the valuable costal strips in NSW and Queensland/ Mr Aird should instead adopt the robust and proven structure used by Hobart water, owned and managed by eight councils.

Gordon Cameron, Margate


We are incredibly fortunate to have such fertile land. Our rich agriculture, the backbone of Tasmania, is fed from the streams and rivers that flow from lake storages in our highlands. However, in today’s world, the climate can no longer be depended on; water is no longer something to be taken for granted. The State Government has indicated through a number of surveys that they should be taking over the management of water and sewage from Local Government. Not only will this grant the State Government power of all water storage and distribution throughout Tasmania, it will allow them to capitalize on over 30million dollars per year that is currently paid to Local Governments in water rates.. read more