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MP dismisses bill worry

Wednesday, 24th October, 2018

By Craig Brealey

Any proposal to raise water bills was nothing more than a recommendation, local State MP Kevin Humphries said yesterday.

Mr Humphries was replying to Mayor Darriea Turley’s concerns, published in yesterday’s BDT, about Essential Energy seeking to increase the price charged to residents by $127 a year from 2019 to 2023.

“The BDT would do well to investigate any claims made by the Mayor-Labor candidate in reference to water as they continue to be false and misleading, which I would say are not very good qualities for anyone in public office,” Mr Humphries said.

He also accused Ms Turley, who is standing as Labor’s candidate at the NSW election in March, of not providing evidence for her concerns when she was on ABC Radio yesterday.

“The Mayor could not reference any report in her interview in relation to water pricing,” said Mr Humphries. 

Ms Turley’s concerns relate directly to a submission by Essential Energy to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) which will set the price.

The submission states: “A typical residential customer consuming 200 KL (kilolitres) per year would see an average annual increase in their combined water and sewerage bill of 9.1 per cent or $127 per year.”  

But Mr Humphries said the government had guaranteed that water bills would rise by no more than allowed by the Consumer Price Index, which measures increases in the cost of goods and services.

“Even if there was a reference, the Minister for Water, with Cabinet approval, made a public commitment outlining the government’s commitment that residents would pay no more than current cost of water usage,” he said.

“Any additions would be based on CPI increases only. A great outcome.

“IPART work will continue but their recommendations to the Government are not binding; they are recommendations.

“The Government has taken the position of making a commitment up front to the people of Broken Hill in terms of water charges which is well within the remit of good Government.

“Not only is the Government providing world class, vital infrastructure in the area, it is affordable.

“So I say to the Mayor and anybody that doesn’t get it - stop being a continual embarrassment to Broken Hill and why not just say ‘thank you’ for the benefits you are receiving?

“My agenda has always been to work with anyone who wants to improve their community no matter where or on what issue, not the whingers or time wasters.”

City Council has lodged a submission to IPART stating its argument against Essential Energy’s proposed price hike, and Ms Turley said Mr Humphries, as the local MP, should support it.

“Essential Energy says in its submission that the average water and sewerage cost is already $1200 a year,” she said. “Broken Hill cannot afford to pay more.

“With respect to the State Member, he should join City Council in our fight to ensure our community is not disadvantaged by IPART’s determination of water prices.”

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