Council is in dispute with a company after a maintenance and operations contract for the Mackay water treatment plant was ended. Picture: Contributed
Council is in dispute with a company after a maintenance and operations contract for the Mackay water treatment plant was ended. Picture: Contributed

Council locked in dispute with multimillion-dollar company

AN ONGOING dispute between Mackay Regional Council and a multimillion-dollar company has reached mediation.

Council chief executive officer Craig Doyle said an agreement could not be reached with Downer Utilities, the asset maintenance company that had been operating and maintaining Mackay’s north and south water recycling facilities for the past 10 years.

In June 2018, the council decided to deliver operation of the treatment plants through an in-house model rather than extend the operations and maintenance contract with Downer.

This is when the dispute began.

“The operational side of things has been seamless, it was the state of the equipment being handed back that was the problem,” Mr Doyle said.

“The state of the assets at handover was not up to our expectations.”

Mackay's Water Treatment Plant in 2010. Picture: Lee Constable
Mackay's Water Treatment Plant in 2010. Picture: Lee Constable

Mr Doyle said the contractual disagreement had been complex and arduous but nine months of negotiation had lowered outstanding amounts from between five and seven million, to just $200,000.

“We have worked with the CEO of Downer for some time but there are still a few things we cannot agree on so it has gone to mediation,” Mr Doyle said.

“One of the particulars of the dispute is what the agreed asset life was at the start of the contract.”

Downer was arguing disrepair of the assets was to be expected, given the sewerage treatment plant was a corrosive environment.

Mr Doyle said the council hoped the dispute would be settled by the end of October following the formal mediation process.

He said it would not be sensible for the issue to go to court due to the small amount of money being disputed.

Downer was contacted, but declined to comment.



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