Water Week

EWN Publishing

Fed Govt failure to commit $90m to goldfields super pipe extension means Victoria’s Central Highlands Water must increase family water bills: MP

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

The issue of water security was top on her list of priorities; and not far behind that issue was the cost of that water, said Labor MP Catherine King in the Federal House of Representatives on 15 August 2007.

Ballarat could run out of water: “Despite our recent rain, which has been very much welcomed, Ballarat’s water supply is currently sitting at around 11 per cent,” King said. “If Ballarat were to endure another lean spring and dry summer, it would be absolutely possible for one of Australia’s largest inland cities to run out of water. This is obviously not acceptable.”

Goldfields super pipe as long-term solution: “There is only one viable long-term solution on the table: the goldfields super pipe to secure Ballarat’s water supply,” King said. “The state Liberal Party has tried to push the idea of pumping water from the Lal Lal reservoir, a ridiculous idea, as Lal Lal could only supply Ballarat with at most two weeks of water — hardly a long-term solution. Last year on 18 October, the Victorian government announced the construction of the goldfields super pipe, with the understanding that the federal government would jointly fund Victoria’s No. 1 water priority project.”

Federal Govt fails to commit to its share: “The pipeline will provide Bendigo and Ballarat with a reliable and secure water supply,” said King. “Unfortunately, such infrastructure does cost money and someone has to pay for it. The state government has made its contribution and is expecting the Howard government to make an additional contribution of $90 million. If that is not the case, then the funding for that infrastructure will need to be found from local water rates. The state government is concerned about that and so has moved in fact to cap water rate increases in our district to ensure that they can only increase at most by 15 per cent per year. Premier Brumby said yesterday that the state government wanted to cap water bills at no more than double today’s rate at 2012 but the Ballarat region could miss out. The federal government’s failure to fund the goldfields super pipe extension from Bendigo meant Central Highlands Water needed to find alternative funding and increase bills to cope.”

Families struggle: “Ballarat has the highest water bills in the state,” King said, “because the Howard government has not yet committed the $90 million to fund the goldfields super pipe. Families are already struggling to cope with record healthcare costs, interest rates, petrol prices and child care. Why does the Howard government now want to increase the pain by increasing our water bills? The Howard government has also clearly not thought through what increasing the cost of water would do to industries in my electorate like Master Foods and McCain, which use large amounts of water. Would it still be to their competitive advantage to stay in the district that potentially has the highest water rates in the state?”

Reference: Catherine King, Member for Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 15 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 19/8/2007


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