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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mayor Cynical On Water Backflip

Moreton Bay Regional Council is urging caution on the Queensland Government's decision today to give councils the power to disband South East Queensland's recently established water retailers.

Mayor Allan Sutherland said he was all for reducing the pressure on family budgets but has warned the full ramifications of the state's announcement would have to be carefully considered and managed.

"This is more about combating the political aspirations of former Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman than any genuine attempt to reduce the impact of water price rises on residents," Mayor Sutherland said.

"I simply don't believe unscrambling the egg will deliver substantial savings for water users in South East Queensland and may actually drive up costs.

"Let's not forget the water utilities are less than a year old and at first glance this seems to be an exercise in simply shifting the blame and the costs."

Mayor Sutherland said Moreton Bay Regional Council stands alone as the only council in South East Queensland to reduce rates this year for residents while also delivering a $35 million two-year subsidy to buffer the increase in water and sewerage services.

"Time and time again, the Premier has held up my council's subsidy package as the example for others to follow, yet this tricky decision by the state government stands to hit residents' hip pockets hard," the Mayor said. 

"It's all very well for the state to limit water price rises to CPI, but why isn't the government also pegging their bulk water charges to inflation?

"If the state government is really serious about the hip pockets of residents they should also be reinstating the 40 percent subsidy to councils to build new sewerage infrastructure, which they scrapped last year and has led to higher prices for sewerage," the Mayor said.

"While the state's at it, they should also cap price rises for car registration, electricity and public transport because they're all contributing to the extraordinary cost of living pressures in Queensland. 

"But I suspect they know that capping to CPI is a dangerous and risky policy. 

"I'm all for reducing pressure on family budgets, but this is a plan that smacks of political convenience and just doesn't stack up."

Mayor Sutherland is today meeting with other South East Queensland mayors in relation to the state government's extraordinary back flip on water.