HANDS OFF OUR LOCAL WATER UTILITIES SAYS MARSHALL

Thursday, 20 April 2023

MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has seized on comments from Premier Chris Minns, which have emerged today, suggesting the State Government would take control of the delivery of drinking water to communities, and has demand the Water Minister rule out stripping water utilities from the region’s local councils.

The comments were made by the Premier during a public rally against the threat of the privatisation of Sydney Water: “Labor also believes that a guaranteed right to a safe, reliable, supply of clean water – provided by the Government of this State – should be a constitutionally protected right for the people of New South Wales.”

Mr Marshall said that while the Premier’s sentiment sounded proper and correct, the corollary was that the State Government would, rather than local councils (the current utility operators), be the supplier of safe and reliable drinking water under the proposed constitutional amendment.

“The fear is this proposal would see all water utilities stripped from our local councils and centralised into various State-owned water corporations or government agencies,” Mr Marshall said.

“Any local control and input, local price-setting powers and public accountability would be completely lost.

“This proposal is absolutely reckless and has clearly not been thought through – it must be ruled out immediately by the new Water Minister.”

Mr Marshall said that unfortunately, NSW Labor had form when it came to trying to take local water utilities from local government.

“These comments from the Premier bring back memories from 2007 and 2008 when the then Water Utilities Minister Nathan Rees attempted to strip councils of their role as water utility operators,” Mr Marshall said.

“I recall attending a meeting back then of local councils at Inverell (representing Gunnedah Shire Council) where the Minister’s proposition was firmly rejected – he was sent packing back to Sydney and the proposal was eventually shelved.

“Obviously, some in thew new government have very short memories.

“Our region’s councils will not stand idly by and allow their local communities to be duded by having their local water assets taken off them.

“They will fight with everything they have and I’ll be the first to join them in that battle to once again defeat this water corporatisation agenda.

“I call on the Water Minister to immediately rule out stripping away local water utilities from our councils and communities and corporatising them.”

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