Water Pricing Threat to Central Highlands Farms and Towns

Central Highlands ratepayers and Emerald irrigation farmers may be facing steep price increases for bulk water to pay for Labor’s unfunded Dam Safety Improvement Program, according to the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar MP.

“Although it has several redactions, the Sunwater Annual Report 2017-18 makes clear that the government–owned business is struggling to balance Labor’s requirement to pay the state government 100 per cent of its net profit while having to undertake extensive safety improvements to its networks of dams, including the Fairbairn Dam,” said Mr Millar.

“If Sunwater is not allowed to reinvest any of its profits into its own infrastructure then they will have to find the money somewhere and I fear it will be from irrigation farmers and Councils who are buying bulk water to supply our towns.
“Like Ergon, which must also pay its dividends to the government, Sunwater is a monopoly supplier so its customers cannot avoid unreasonable charges.

“Extreme price rises in water charging will hit every household on the Central Highlands and potentially cripple our irrigation farmers,” he said.

“This week Treasurer Jackie Trad officially referred the matter of Sunwater’s pricing for the years 2020 to 2024 to the Queensland Competition Authority for investigation.

“The QCA will report back to the Government in August 2019 and this report will be used to underpin the pricing structures for the next four years,” he said.

Mr Millar said he is strongly urging irrigation farmers and local government to provide feedback to the QCA.

“The QCA website already allows customers to register their interest in attending regional forums on the pricing and I urge interested parties to register. These forums will only be held if there has been enough interest registered,” said Mr Millar.

“This appears to be the only public feedback mechanism although customers can register to receive updates on the investigation and view the timeline for the investigation at the QCA website – www.qca.org.au and click on water, irrigation price investigations, Irrigation Price Review 2020-24”.

Sunwater Annual Report 2017-18 can be accessed via the Queensland Parliament web site by clicking on this link

Fast Facts:
• Sunwater Annual Report 2017-18 suggests Sunwater struggling to fund Dam Safety Improvement Project
• October 29, 2018 Queensland Treasurer refers Sunwater pricing for 2020-2024 to the Queensland Competition Authority for investigation
• Local Member urges people to register their interest in having a say