Pre-Poll Shock: Bligh backflips on water reforms
The council-owned water retailers that issue southeast Queensland residents with their water bills could be disbanded under a state government overhaul.
In a major backflip, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh today announced the state government was walking away from the distribution and retailing structures it set up as part of its water reforms.
Councils would have the option of withdrawing from the three council-owned water utilities, Allconnex, Queensland Urban Utilities and Unitywater, and could decide to directly charge ratepayers for water, she said.
"This means that councils who wish to return to their previous structure will be able to do so," Ms Bligh said.
Councils and the state government have been involved in a long-running war of words over the impact of sharply rising water bills on southeast Queensland residents.
Council have pointed to government's big increases in bulk water costs, while the state government has accused council-owned retailers of price-gouging. De facto Liberal National Party leader Campbell Newman had flagged moves to tackle water prices as part of his election pitch.
The move to allow councils to opt out of the current water utilities if they wish to do so is designed to sheet home political responsibility to local governments.
"This means councils will be solely responsible for the price of water sold to their ratepayers," Ms Bligh said today.
"We have listened to ratepayers across the southeast, ratepayers say enough is enough, we say enough is enough, and we're taking this action today."