Bulk price cause of big bills
SOUTH-EAST Queensland's mayors say a report they commissioned confirms the State Government's increased bulk water prices are the main reason for residents' higher water bills.
The report was prepared by Dr David Cousins, the former chairman of the Prices Surveillance Authority and an ACCC commissioner.
Dr Cousins found bulk water cost increases were the main cost driver for each of the region's three water retailers including Queensland Urban Utilities, which delivers water to Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset.
He also pointed to the establishment costs associated with the government's water reform process and its removal of subsidies for water and sewage infrastructure.
Council of Mayors deputy chairman Councillor John Brent said the report's findings were “no surprise”.
“The report confirms what councils have long known, that the State Government's bulk water price increases are the main reason for increased water bills,” Cr Brent said.
Cr Brent backed Dr Cousins' call for water retailers and governments to engage with communities on the true causes of water prices.
“By commissioning this report, Council of Mayors is seeking to provide the residents of SEQ with a genuinely independent and objective view of what has happened to water prices.”
Minister for Natural Resources Stephen Robertson said the report only provided the outcome that the councils wanted.
“The State Government is responsible for about 25 per cent of the average household water bill. The remaining 75 per cent goes to the councils' retail water businesses that pay dividends to the councils,” Mr Robertson said.
“This financial year, the state will sell bulk water to councils at a loss of $407 million. Councils sell that water to consumers for a profit.” The report is scheduled to be released tonight.