The Queensland government has proposed that will either sell off two of its biggest water projects or turn them off completely.
The suggestion of a sell-off from Premier Campbell Newman comes as part of a mission to dump expensive white elephants that were initially built under the previous Labor government.
The government has targeted these water projects because they aren’t producing the returns that the government needs for them to remain a sustainable investment.
He said that the recycled water pipeline isn’t producing any water and could be sold to the private sector or shut down completely under options to be considered by State Cabinet.
The high market value and the potential savings in annual maintenance are two of the biggest reasons for the government’s suggestion of a sell-off.
The Newman government considers the projects to be a money sink because they were largely funded by debt during the previous government, which has resulted in having to pay $150 million a year in interest payments.
Additionally, the government has also had to pay $33 million a year in ‘care and maintenance’ costs.
Mr Newman was highly critical of his Labor predecessors, saying that his government is committed to “better infrastructure and planning” and determined to “fix up the mess Labor left behind”.
So he has assured that Cabinet will be looking at options for the future management of what he called “failed Labor water projects”.
“That could mean keeping one or both of these water projects for times of extreme drought, or investigating alternative uses and even sale opportunities,” Mr Newman said.
Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark McArdle was equally strident in applying the political hose to the high costs of “two botched” water projects, saying that they were “symbolic of Labor waste”.
“Labor borrowed billions to build these two water infrastructure projects in a mad panic and they have barely been used,” Mr McArdle said.
He said that South-east Queenslanders’ water bills are so high today because they are continuing to pay for the “failed Labor projects” that are “currently not even producing a drop of water”.
Instead, Mr McArdle suggested that he $150 million a year spent in interest repayments for these projects could be “better spent” on schools, hospitals, police or roads.
“All Queenslanders are paying the price of the former Labor Government’s poor planning and will pay the price for years to come,” he said.
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