Domestic Water Charges
DOMESTIC WATER CHARGES
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Housing. Will the Government estimate the increase in the cost of water to the average Sydney household once the Government's proposed water treatment plants have been commissioned?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: The answer to that question, probably, is no, because, as the honourable member would be aware, the Parliament passed legislation to set up the Independent Pricing Tribunal to set prices for government monopolies, including those that supply water, electricity, public transport, and so on. I can answer the honourable member's question in a little more detail by saying that prior to the calling of tenders for the construction of these water treatment plants the Water Board constructed its own model whereby it estimated how much it would cost to supply these water treatment plants itself. Over a 25-year period, which is considered to be the life
of treatment plants in an economic sense, the Water Board will save somewhere in the region of $500 million or $600 million - I do not have those figures at hand but I think it is in that region - over and above what it would have cost had the Water Board itself provided these water treatment plants. The cost effectiveness of the plants is not at issue, but whether the price of water will increase and by how much is quite properly within the ambit of the Independent Pricing Tribunal to determine. When I read the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to the Institute of Directors I was interested to learn that the Opposition supports the principle of contracting out for the provision of these water treatment plants. I am satisfied that there is support on the Opposition side of the House for what the Government is doing. As the Premier and I pointed out when we made the announcement, the construction of these plants, which is valued at more than $500 million, will create 700 jobs - something that I am sure all members of the House would welcome.