Private Sector expressing interest in controlling water utilities

Editors comment – from a developers point of view this would be a wonderful way of extracting future and ongoing income over and above the original sale price! From the residents point of view – Beware!!

October 24, 2015 12:00am

Matthew Killoran The Courier-Mail

A CONTROVERSIAL bid to start up private water utilities is being considered by the Palaszczuk Government.

Councils have been approached by companies and developers seeking to start up private water utilities, cutting into the business of the existing council-owned water retailers, a local government conference was told yesterday.

Water Minister Mark Bailey confirmed to The Courier-Mail private entities were seeking to enter the market and that the Government was open to discussions, despite its opposition to asset sales.

Logan City Council revealed at the Local Government Association of Queensland conference in Toowoomba this week it had been approached about establishing a private water utility in the city.

There are fears from some councils it could lead to millions of dollars being ripped from their budgets as the new companies steal away customers, plus concerns it could push up water prices.

Logan Council is opposed to the plan and wants the State Government to reject it too, calling for the LGAQ to lobby against it.

Logan council’s water boss Cr Don Petersen said developer Lend Lease wanted to set up its own water supply in satellite city Yarrabilba and set up its own water utility to sell the water to residents. He said there had been similar proposals from other developers.

Mr Bailey said there had been private sector interest in water utilities and it was being reviewed. Councils and the private sector would be consulted before any decision was made.

“There’s a lot of different ways it could be configured, that’s why we’re taking great care to get it right,” Mr Bailey said.