The State Liberals are demanding that the Weatherill Labor Government conduct an independent inquiry into water prices after explosive allegations of price gouging by the Government.
Claims by former Essential Services Commission chief executive Paul Kerin to a parliamentary committee that South Australians are paying at least $100 million a year too much for water must be investigated.
“If Mr Kerin is correct in his assertion that SA Water’s asset base is overvalued by $2 billion dollars then the Weatherill Government is gouging hundreds of dollars out of ordinary South Australians every year,” said State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall.
As at 1 July 2013, SA Water’s Regulated Asset Base was valued at over $11 billion.
“If Mr Kerin is correct, the Weatherill Government is taxing South Australians hundreds of dollars a year through artificially inflated water prices,” said Mr Marshall.
“Mr Kerin’s evidence is consistent with the fact that the people of Adelaide pay the highest water prices of all capital cities and that the State Government pocketed $291.5 million in dividends last year.”
The latest CPI data confirms that over the past 12 years, water prices have risen by 236 per cent despite inflation only being 41 per cent during this time.
“Mr Kerin claims that the Weatherill Labor Government decided to overvalue SA Water’s asset base to plug holes in its leaking budget has a ring of truth to it,” said Mr Marshall.
This latest revelation follows Mr Kerin’s resignation letter that claimed the Weatherill Labor Government and senior government bureaucrats have no interest in serving the long-term interests of consumers.
“It is quite clear from Mr Kerin’s letter that SA Water is being used as a cash cow and that the Weatherill Labor Government has no interest in reform, despite there being opportunities to do so,” said Mr Marshall.
A damning ESCOSA report on the performance of SA Water released in April this year also revealed that SA Water’s net profit after tax ratio was one of the highest of the capital city water utilities in 2012-13.