Question asked in Parliament 19 Mar, 2015
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 15:19 :59 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the minister questions about water and sewerage rates.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: It is well over two months since SA Water were alerted to the issue of an enormous increase in water and sewerage rates for a retirement village at Para Vista. As previously outlined, residents in this village were hit with rates for the 2014-15 financial year which were 677 per cent higher than the previous year. I understand from previous answers that the minister is very concerned about this issue and has asked SA Water to investigate a solution to the issue. My questions are:
Can the minister advise what, if anything, SA Water have done for the specific village in Para Vista?
Can the minister advise the progress of SA Water's investigations, when he expects a response to this problem and if it is likely to be before the end of this financial year?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 15:21 :02 ): I thank the Hon. Mr Darley for his most important question and for his continuing interest in this community and the response to the changes to rating on properties, particularly in retirement homes such as the one that he raised with us previously. I have talked about this before in this place in response to questions from the Hon. Mr Darley.
I advised the chamber of the Valuer-General's policy. The Valuer-General, of course, as an independent statutory authority, cannot be directed. The Valuer-General's policy for assessing retirement units has changed over a number of years and has, unfortunately, resulted in changes to how SA Water and other organisations charge independent residents within those villages, including councils in terms of council rates. That's not an area in which I have any control, of course, but I do have some ability to discuss with SA Water how they apply changes arising from the Valuer-General's policy.
As I have said in this place before, I don't accept that SA Water would unilaterally just apply the changes to those retirement villages and their separately titled units without considering first the consequences to those residents and how that might impact some of those people who are quite vulnerable. So, as I have said before, I have asked the Department of the Premier and Cabinet to consult with the Valuer-General's office and SA Water and other agencies to discuss a way forward on this matter.
I am aware that a number of meetings have been held at a high level across many agencies. I have asked them in their deliberations to put the interests of the residents at the forefront and the bureaucratic determinations that flow from the Valuer-General's determinations as secondary items and, when I get a satisfactory response, I will bring it back to this chamber for the honourable member. But again, I say that I am not so much interested in a quick and hasty response but in getting the right one.
April 14, 2016
In reply to the Hon. J.A. DARLEY (19 March 2015)
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) :
Since July 2014, SA Water has been providing the Para Vista Retirement Village with a water and sewer rebate for the difference between the amount charged based on individual ILU assessments and the amount that would have been charged if SA Water were to issue a single bill for the village. The Village has not been disadvantaged by the change in valuation process.
As of 1 July 2015, SA Water introduced a limited period Retirement Village Discounted Single Assessment (RVDSA) charge to apply to the Para Vista Retirement Village and other Retirement Villages impacted by the change in the Valuer General's policy regarding the assessment of Retirement Villages. This RVDSA will run for a period of ten years ending on 30 June 2025.