Independent Inquiry Into Water Pricing

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will establish an independent inquiry into water pricing.

The Problem

South Australians continue to pay too much for water, with the State Labor Government gouging hundreds of millions of dollars from South Australian families and businesses every year through SA Water.

Average household water bills have risen from $236 in 2001-02 to an estimated $782 in 2017-18 – an increase of 232%.

The latest National Water Account published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows South Australian households also pay the highest average cost of water per kilolitre (kL) at $4.46, compared with the national average of $2.99 per kL.

Key issues with water pricing in South Australia include:

  • the overvaluation of the regulated asset base by an estimated $2 billion;
  • examples of inefficient capital and operating expenses, such as the unnecessary decision to double the size of the Adelaide Desalination Plant.

The establishment of the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) in 2011 as an independent economic regulator was meant to provide a transparent means of setting service standards and prices, with ESCOSA tasked with inquiring into the structure of water and sewerage prices in 2012.

However, it was soon revealed that the inquiry was undermined by the State Labor Government who changed the value of the regulated asset base to keep prices inflated. The Labor Government’s lack of concern for water consumers and the stifling of ESCOSA’s role as the independent regulator have imposed water bills that are too high for too long.

In 2014 the State Liberals introduced legislation to Parliament to establish a Commission of Inquiry on Water Pricing but this was voted down by the government who would prefer to keep you in the dark regarding why you pay more for water than any other state.

The State Liberals' Plan

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will establish an independent inquiry into water pricing.

The outcomes of this inquiry will inform improvements to the pricing of water in South Australia, ensuring that consumers are not ripped off by a State Government.

We are committed to South Australian water users paying fair and just prices.