Opportunities Lost

08 Jul 2015 newswaterpricingmedia

The State Liberals have criticised the Weatherill Government for ignoring the advice of its own independent pricing regulator ESCOSA and adopting a robust third party access scheme for SA Water’s infrastructure, which would provide relief for SA Water customers. 

“Competition in the provision of water would drive down the price of water but for that to happen companies selling water need access to SA Water’s pipe network at a fair price,” said Shadow Minister for Water Michelle Lensink.

“The Weatherill Government’s Water Industry (Third Party Access) Amendment Bill effectively leaves it up to SA Water to decide how much other parties should pay for access to its pipe network, and ties ESCOSA’s hands in the process. Past experience tells us this simply won’t work.

“SA Water delivers some of the most expensive water in Australia yet the Weatherill Government is letting SA Water determine how much it can charge competitors.

“Why on earth would SA Water, a government monopoly making massive profits, want to encourage commercial competitors?

“Many primary producers across South Australia are struggling with high water prices – particularly those at the mercy of paying full tote odds for water provided through SA Water’s network.

“Barossa Infrastructure Limited’s (BIL) scheme is the envy of many food producers, with their shareholder irrigators paying less than one third of the price of SA Water’s commercial rate of $3.32/KL. 

“This type of benefit could be delivered across regional South Australia if the Weatherill Government put in place genuine third party access.

“AS ESCOSA has noted, “…that it, (the scheme) may be unlikely to work without at least a credible threat of regulatory escalation to very strong levels.”

“The Labor Government needs to enable ESCOSA to have a role in the setting of access prices and in determining which assets should be subject to the scheme as well as to speed up the process for potential access seekers and reduce SA Water’s ability to obfuscate and delay”.