Tasmanian Government believes 1000 jobs could be created through capital works program

The state government’s plan to speed up TasWater’s ambitious 10-year capital works plan will create 1000 jobs over five years, Treasurer Peter Gutwein claims.

The government from 2018 wants to takeover the council-owned utility and complete a $1.5 billion works program by 2023.

It will continue to pay the councils about $30 million in dividends a year until 2024-25 after which time the amount will be halved.

Mr Gutwein said the construction industry’s call for a steady pipeline of projects had been answered through bringing forward the end of the works program.

Local Government Association of Tasmania president Doug Chipman on Tuesday sent Mr Gutwein a letter urging him to greater detail the government’s takeover plan at the organisation’s next general meeting in Launceston on April 7.

In particular, the sector wants the government to address key risks from an accelerated works plan, how price capping will work, and how financial returns can be “sustained and improved” from 2025.

Property Council of Australia state executive officer Brian Wightman has thrown the organisation’s support behind the government’s plan.

“State government ownership of TasWater must be the preferred option as the local government sector continues to struggle to grasp the enormity of the task that we face as a state,” he said

“The shared ownership model for TasWater clearly hasn’t worked.

“Twenty-nine different vantage points with conflicting agendas is not an ideal leadership model if you want improvement.”

Mr Wightman called on councils to flout Hobart City Council’s move against the takeover and vote in favour of a government takeover of the company, highlighting 2015 Environmental Protection Authority data.

This showed the Somerset wastewaster treatment plant was the only compliant plant within the state with compliance levels varying from there, reaching as low as 72.9 per cent in Evandale.

Somerset itself though was the scene of a five-megalitre spill of raw sewage into the Bass Strait over several days last year, however.

Meanwhile, a Bureau of Meteorology report, which compared the performance of 86 water utilities, has shown TasWater has the lowest bills, quickest response times, and highest investment ratio per property in the nation.

TasWater chairman Miles Hampton said the results showed that the company was getting on with fixing the state’s ailing water and sewerage infrastructure. 

“This is why we have developed a targeted plan of capital improvements over 10 years, matching spending with income and price increases within the boundaries set by the economic regulator.” Mr Hampton said.

Chief Representative of the Owner Councils, David Downie, said: “While the state government continues to downplay the accomplishments of TasWater for political purposes, an independent National Performance Report of Urban Water Utilities shows otherwise.”

This story Jobs boom tipped from water plan first appeared on The Advocate.