THE state’s 29 councils should reflect on comments made by Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein last week concerning their grab for the profits of TasWater.
The water authority made a profit of $27.2 million last financial year and almost $30 million in potential repairs and maintenance to our water and sewerage systems was paid as a dividend to the councils which own the authority.
As Mr Gutwein said, the fact that we have 22 towns through the state on boil water alerts is due in large part to under-investment by councils in much needed infrastructure over the decades.
The cynic would see this trend as the councils draining TasWater of much needed capital in order to prop up their budgets and keep rates down.
It is obvious that over the past few decades councils have deferred expenditure on water and sewerage; hoping that the other two tiers of government would step to fix up the pipes and pumps with election promises.
As a result there are parts of Tasmania with Third World water and sewerage systems. People in regional and remote parts of this small state are just as entitled to a safe and adequate water supply as are city and urban dwellers.
This is not to blame those responsible councils that have spent a respectable amount on water and sewerage and attempted to keep up with the maintenance backlog.
The greedy ones may be putting a higher priority on healthy looking budgets, but their neglect of this vital infrastructure is bad practice, immoral and highly damaging to Tasmania’s clean green image.
Councils should reflect on this and why the concept of a separate water authority was created in the first place – because they had been neglecting their obligations for decades.
And they wonder why there is a push for fewer councils, and why there is cynicism over their plans for resource sharing.
– BARRY PRISMALL, deputy editor
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