Pipeline court action on hold
Friday, 1st December, 2017
By Emily Roberts
A motion to stop the pipeline until water pricing can be guaranteed has been deferred until after meetings with the NSW Water Minister and IPART.
Councillor Tom Kennedy put his notice of motion forward at the City Council meeting on Wednesday night that stated “the Broken Hill City Council seek options for commencing legal action against the NSW State Government to stop the construction of the Murray pipeline until the NSW State Government guarantees via legislation that the Broken Hill community will not have to cover the cost of construction of the pipeline”.
Clr Kennedy asked “that the BHCC apply to the Local Government Association of NSW to share the cost amongst member councils as it is a case of the State Government forcing unaffordable costs onto a local government area”.
At the meeting, Clr Kennedy said there was no guarantee that the Broken Hill people wouldn’t pay for the pipeline.
“We need legal action to stop the pipeline until the State Government can give their commitment that the community won’t pay.”
Councillor Dave Gallagher said the city hadn’t been told that it would pay for the pipeline.
“I’ve never heard the Water Minister say that we would have to pay,” Councillor Dave Gallagher said.
“The money for the pipeline will come from the leasing of poles and wires.
“I can’t understand where this figure has come from. IPART make decisions on pricing.”
Councillor Bob Algate stated that the public was “well-aware” that it will be paying for the pipeline.
“It has been stated on record and I shudder when IPART are mentioned because we all know what has happened with our power prices; they have gone crazy.
“We will all be suffering from an IPART decision one way or another.
“It’s never been open or transparent from the word go. The consultation has always been one-sided.
“Why wait until we get the bill to see if we can or can’t afford it?”
Clr Algate was also worried that Menindee Lakes and Darling River wouldn’t be restored.
“They (State Government) don’t give a shit about the people here.”
Councillor Christine Adams said she would like to see some hard facts before deciding on the issue.
She suggested deferring the issue until after meeting with Water Minister Niall Blair and IPART.
But Clr Kennedy said to defer the motion was to vote against it.
Mayor Darriea Turley
said that providing accurate data was important before presenting it to the Water Minister and State Government.
“Councillors moved to defer a motion (put forward by Clr Kennedy) to allow time for him to bring back more data around his proposal.
“There was a concern around allegations that every person in Broken Hill would pay $100,000 dollars (in water bills).
“We want to see data around that. We are certainly opposed to the position of the pipeline, we’ve always asked for the business case, even the environmental impact statement.
“But we need to be very clear when we are using data that we see what it is.
“We’ve got an appointment with NSW Water Minister Niall Blair. It’s been confirmed this week.
“We will meet with minister in late December and the reason we are meeting with him is because we have asked for a moratorium on the pipeline.
“The other part of that is IPART; how much do we pay? We just have to be very careful with what we say.
“We have managed to secure a meeting with IPART, not just the chair but the financial officer as well to put a case upfront. We don’t want to wait for an inquiry.
“The community cannot afford to pay.”