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SA Water to Cap Water and Sewerage Prices

John Darley, Advance SA MLC (5AA 10.35-10.41) SA Water to cap water and sewerage price adjustments

(Byner: … SA Water has announced that water and sewerage price adjustments is going to be capped at 1.9% on average to reflect the CPI so for the average metropolitan residential customer this’ll mean a combined water and sewerage bill increase of about $23 but do understand this comes from an extraordinarily high base… Dick Blandy… made the point that the overvaluing of SA Water as an asset – which Mr Koutsantonis used to always deny, I think at one stage he talked about enemies of the state if you dared disagree with the Government or Treasury at the time but I think we’ve gone beyond that nonsense now and so that’s meant maybe $300-400 a year more than you should pay but the silent part here is what Professor Mike Young… calls the liquid land tax, the sewerage rate… Not based on what service is being provided, it’s based on your perceived wealth. …John Darley… tell us the facts…) What SA Water have said is correct, even in terms of the sewerage rate because they set a budget for water and sewerage rates and then the valuation is only used to distribute that budget between the ratepayers… I asked a question in Parliament the other day of the Treasurer and I said I understand the Government is going to increase the threshold which land tax cuts in and also reduce the top rate and my question was: did the Government give consideration to capping total land tax receipts at CPI or indeed individual owners’ accounts at CPI and he thought about that for a while and he said ‘No we didn’t but I’ll think about it’ but in terms of the water and sewer rates, SA Water have their own budget and what the Government is saying, that’s going to increase by CPI and then the only use of the valuation is to apportion it between the ratepayers. (Byner: So again the more your property is valued at a higher rate, the higher will be your sewerage charge-) Exactly. (Byner: -and all the other levies you pay as well.) Yeah. But the total budget for SA Water rates and charges will be capped at CPI, the same as Emergency Services Levy, NRM levy and all those other things. (Byner: Yeah, see water charges – particularly for the commercial sector – are extremely high.) Yeah, because they have to pay on the basis of valuation as well as consumption. (Byner: Yes.) That’s the thing that’s not right. (Byner: It just reminds me of - ) Robin Hood. (Byner: Yeah, absolutely. [Plays Robin Hood music] I knew I’d have an opportunity to play that. Is anything going to be done with this?) I don't think so. I mean I keep on pushing the argument that you don’t need valuations to calculate your sewerage rates at all because now that we have quarterly meter readings you can work out how much water is going through the meter to discharge waste right and you work it out that way… (Byner: … Thank you … Let me just replay you a very informative piece from Professor Dick Blandy about the overvaluation and how it touches you) [Audio - Dick Blandy: That the Government has inflected of about $275m and that’s disguised because having ESCOSA regulate the price it appears to consumers that it’s ESCOSA that has set this high price. If you operated in the normal fashion there would be a saving on SA Water’s costs of about $275m and that would be passed on to households and consumers of water… What we proposed in our article is if the Government really needs this money then it should have a properly regulated competitive equivalent price and apply – openly – a $275m tax on water. You can see why the Government doesn't want to do that, because it would be extremely unpopular and people would say why on Earth are you taxing water so what’s happened is, an implicit tax has been applied but people don’t know it.] (Byner: You know it now.)