Currently receiving publicity is the Mayan calendar which predicts the world’s end in December 2012. The actual translation is “A time of great change.” Not so much the end but more the beginning of a new era. It is a time of significant change for Gold Coast ratepayers, who will receive what is possibly their last Allconnex water bill in the next week. Unless there is a change of government on 24 March, the ratepayers of the City of Gold Coast have been duped by misguided media and activists from Disconnex into reviving Gold Coast Water.
Gold Coast Water may come to life on 1 July but is only a water retailer. Therefore, it will not lead to reductions in the cost of water simply because the Queensland Government controls the price of water sold to retailers.
As a result, the wholesale cost of water is the bulk of a water bill because someone has to pay for the reckless spending by the Beattie-Bligh governments on projects that include the $7 billion water grid that may never be used and the troubled desalination plant at Tugun plus the $500 million for Traveston Dam, which wasn’t built despite costly planning and land resumptions.
Gold Coast City Council is not responsible for the originally highly respected water utility being taken over by the Queensland Government. It was legislated that way. The spin by Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser into making Gold Coast ratepayers believe the high water bills are all the councils’ fault is bizarre because they control the wholesale cost price. The government spin campaign caused a misguided people-power revolt on the Gold Coast, with Allconnex Water workers even having their cars attacked. Allconnex has to collect rates to a prescribed formula set by the State Government.
Gold Coast ratepayers should direct their anger at the Queensland Labor MP’s who voted to destroy Gold Coast Water, not at the Gold Coast City Councillors who were forced to vote to disband Gold Coast Water in accordance with law changes enacted by the Queensland Government. The new Gold Coast Water will only be a shadow of its former self but will still have to generate income to fund more than $1 billion in new water and sewerage plants over the next decade. The Queensland Labor Government has removed all subsidies, so Gold Coast Water revived will be looking for new revenue. Unfortunately, it means ratepayers will pick up the tab in raised rates and water charges – or Gold Coast Water will go broke.
Current Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clark has consistently spoken against the Queensland Government takeover of water in South East Queensland. Even the Council of Mayors warned in 2007 that the proposed takeover of water was simply cost-shifting by the state. If the Gold Coast Water revival proceeds, we may not have to wait two years before understanding the negative impact of Labor’s reforms. In the meantime, Gold Coast ratepayers will continue to pay and pay and pay. Even the Queensland Government’s water commissioner, Elizabeth Nosworthy, in 2007 released the pricing for water in southeast Queensland, said that “by 2012-13, a typical household’s annual cost would increase from $355 to $876, an increase of 147 per cent”. This was ignored at the time, but she was on the money.
So when Gold Coast voters receive their Allconnex water bills next week, remember when you go to the polls on 24 March, it was local Labor MP’s Peta-Kaye Croft, Peter Lawler, Christine Smith and Margaret Keech who destroyed Gold Coast Water and drove water prices up 147% in 4 years.