Coun­cil hoses down rich talk

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Alexis Gill­ham alexis. gill­ham@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

TOWNSVILLE City Coun­cil has been l i s t ed among cor­po­rate gi­ants BHP Bil­li­ton and the Com­mon­wealth Bank of Aus­tralia in a list of the nation’s big­gest profit mak­ers.

BRW’s lat­est re­port listed the coun­cil at num­ber 12, based on the profit fig­ure taken from its an­nual fi­nan­cial state­ments. Coun­cil was also ranked sixth on a list of com­pa­nies with the big­gest profit rises.

The coun­cil has hit back at the list, say­ing the busi­ness mag­a­zine’s re­ports were flawed.

Townsville City Coun­cil CEO Ray Bur­ton said the re­ported profit was solely due to the amal­ga­ma­tion of as­sets of the for­mer Townsville and Thuringowa coun­cils and NQ Wa­ter.

‘ ‘ The BRW re­port has been roundly crit­i­cised by the lo­cal gov­ern­ment in­dus­try for its poor re­search,’’ Mr Bur­ton said. ‘‘ BRW com­pared the for­mer Townsville City Coun­cil with the new Townsville City Coun­cil with all of the ad­di­tional as­sets from Thur­ing o w a a n d N Q W a t e r , a n d in­cor­rectly re­ported the dif­fer­ence as an in­crease in profit.

‘‘ It’s also wrong to com­pare Townsville with other coun­cils when a mal­ga­ma­tion b r o ught across ex­pen­sive bulk wa­ter as­sets to the coun­cil here but not in other lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas where they re­mained un­der the own­er­ship of the state.

‘‘ To put it in per­spec­tive, the NQ Wa­ter as­sets, which in­clude the Ross Dam, have a value of more than $ 1.5 bil­lion.

‘‘ The re­al­ity is that for the re­port­ing pe­riod in ques­tion, which was for the first fif­teen-and-a-half months fol­low­ing amal­ga­ma­tion, the coun­cil recorded a $ 28 mil­lion op­er­at­ing deficit, which it has since slashed right back.’’

IBISWorld has been pro­vid­ing re­search to BRW for al­most the en­tire 25-year life­span of the list and the com­pany’s eco­nomic re­search an­a­lyst, Asher Tan, said the 25th an­niver­sary of the list was a tes­ta­ment to the pop­u­lar­ity and au­thor­ity of the list.

‘‘ The rea­son we’ve used a 2008-09 fig­ure as op­posed to a 2009-10 fig­ure was down to pub­lish­ing dead­lines,’’ he said.

‘‘ The most re­cent an­nual re­port for the coun­cil was only avail­able pub­licly in De­cem­ber whereas we had a Novem­ber cut-off pe­riod for fig­ures, ( but) based on the new fig­ures, the coun­cil would still be ranked in a sim­i­lar bracket.’’

Mr Tan said this was the first time coun­cil had been fea­tured on the list. ‘‘ 2008-09 was the first full fi­nan­cial year where the Townsville City Coun­cil, Thuringowa City Coun­cil and NQ Wa­ter were amal­ga­mated,’’ he said. ‘‘ This in­creased to­tal rev­enue for the city to $ 402.2 m, up from $ 195.4 m the pre­vi­ous year.’’

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