Local members of the United Services Union are gearing up for a fight to retain local control of water and sewerage resources.
They have met with Shadow Minister for the North Coast and Ballina MP Don Page to discuss the implications of the Iemma Government seizing control of regional water and sewerage infrastructure.
“I am firmly opposed to the State Labor Government’s proposal to take over control of local water and sewerage infrastructure,” Mr Page said.
“We need to retain local/regional control over our water and sewerage.
“This will be important in maintaining some control over our own destiny as water becomes a scarce and expensive item into the future.
“Once ‘Macquarie Street’ gets control there is no guarantee they won’t flog it off to the highest bidder like they are doing with electricity.
“We would lose control over supply and pricing of water if the State Government takes it over.”
The Labor Government is currently conducting an inquiry into ‘secure and sustainable urban water supply and sewerage services for non-metropolitan NSW’.
Union members fear job losses if the government plan goes ahead.
Mr Page says the Iemma Government has no moral claim on rural and regional water assets.
“They have largely been paid for by local councils and ratepayers,” he said.
“It would be a blatant grab for valuable assets that are currently owned and controlled by our local communities.
“I am very supportive of the current arrangement of resource sharing between councils.
“This system retains control of water resources by local councils.
“Rous Water, for instance, has proven to be an efficient system of resource sharing.”
Mr Page said water and sewerage management currently represented 23% of operating revenue to local councils.
“The loss of local income and jobs would have a devastating impact on local councils and communities,” Mr Page said.
The regional local government body, NOROC, has made a submission to the inquiry highlighting the efficiencies of the current resource sharing system and the benefits to the public and local communities of retaining local control over local water supplies.
“I am strongly supportive of NOROC’s submission and the views of the United Services Union to retain local control of water and sewerage resources,” Mr Page said.
“I will be strongly opposing any move by the Iemma Government to seize control over our water and sewerage assets.”