Last week, an historic agreement was reached between the state government, the Local Government Owners Chief representative and TasWater to improve water and sewerage services in Tasmania.
This is the result of hard work and cooperation and shows that everyone involved is working together in the state’s best interests.
The agreement will pave the way for a package of reforms that will be presented to council owners and if supported by councils, tabled in parliament.
Tasmanians will benefit from a partnership that will see a reduction in forecast price increases, accelerated infrastructure upgrades and a joint focus on major projects such as Macquarie Point, the Launceston combined system and MONA.
The government and TasWater will also work together on trade waste and on expanding water and sewerage services to parts of the state that aren’t currently covered by TasWater’s network.
Under the agreement, the government will inject $20 million per year for the next ten years into TasWater and in return will become a shareholder of TasWater.
Local government will retain majority ownership of TasWater and new governance arrangements will ensure that state and local government will work together with TasWater’s board to deliver the capital program.
This package of reforms, if endorsed by local government owners and supported by parliament, will allow the state government to fulfil its commitments regarding prices and infrastructure investment.
We were pleased that chief owners representative and Northern Midlands mayor David Downie said this week that the agreement would allow TasWater to build on the work done to date and councils will be able to maintain a focus on local economic issues while continuing to have a major say on the direction of TasWater.
This is particularly important given the impact of water and sewerage on local communities. Importantly, dividends to local government owners will be guaranteed and the state government will not receive a dividend.
The reform of the water and sewerage sector is arguably the single most important economic reform that has been undertaken in Tasmania for many decades and by working together we can now focus our entire effort on ensuring the benefits expected from the reform are realised.