The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

WA­TER HIKE ROW BOSS IS IN POWER

- MATTHEW KILLORAN

A MAN who once said Queens­lan­ders were pay­ing too lit­tle for their wa­ter is the Gov­ern­ment’s pick to re­view the state’s elec­tric­ity prices.

Newly ap­pointed Queens­land Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion prin­ci­pal com­mis­sioner Kim Wood pre­vi­ously headed up All­con­nex Wa­ter, a wa­ter re­tailer which sparked public out­rage in 2010 when it jacked up Gold Coast wa­ter prices by 20 per cent and pro­posed another rise of 15 per cent.

Mr Wood then de­fended the hike say­ing wa­ter had been “un­der­val­ued for far too long”.

All­con­nex was the only one of three wa­ter re­tail­ers cre­ated by the Bligh gov­ern­ment to be dis­banded fol­low­ing a pro­longed public cam­paign sparked by the price shock.

The ex­ec­u­tive left the re­tailer in Oc­to­ber 2011 shortly be­fore its demise to take up a job at Hunter Wa­ter in NSW, which in May this year was re­ported to have the low­est wa­ter prices in the coun­try.

The first ma­jor task for the QPC, where Mr Wood will take the reins on Oc­to­ber 1, is an in­quiry into elec­tric­ity prices. It will also pro­pose pol­icy re­forms to the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment.

Mr Wood told The Sun­day Mail that he was proud of what he achieved at All­con­nex.

“It was a con­tro­ver­sial time, I un­der­stand that,” he said. “Had we had more time we would have pleas­antly sur­prised our cus­tomers with the ef­fi­cien­cies we could have achieved.”

Trea­surer Curtis Pitt de­fended Mr Wood’s ap­point­ment, say­ing the QPC needed some­one with “fierce in­de­pen­dence and strong ex­pe­ri­ence in dif­fi­cult change”.

“Mr Wood has shown he is pre­pared to make tough de­ci­sions and rec­om­men­da­tions that Gov­ern­ment will some­times not want to hear,” he said. “With re­gard to Mr Wood’s time at All­con­nex Wa­ter, this was set against the back­drop of one of the worst droughts in Queens­land’s history and his­tor­i­cally high wa­ter charges in many Aus­tralian ju­ris­dic­tions.”

Mr Wood has sig­nif­i­cant ex­pe­ri­ence at util­i­ties around the coun­try, in­clud­ing elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tor Stan­well and Vic­to­ria’s City West Wa­ter.

All­con­nex was cre­ated af­ter the State Gov­ern­ment bought back south­east coun­cils’ wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture in the drought.

Dis­band­ing All­con­nex cost Gold Coast City Coun­cil a fur­ther $80 mil­lion, while State Gov­ern­ment en­forced a three­year CPI freeze on wa­ter prices.

 ??  ?? TREA­SURER: Curtis Pitt has backed QPC boss Kim Wood.
TREA­SURER: Curtis Pitt has backed QPC boss Kim Wood.

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