Letters to the editor
APART from the Council's poor communication record regarding the implementation of the 'new regional approach to water charges', of even greater concern is the lack of community consultation undertaken as part of the process.
Principle 5 of the National Water Initiative Pricing Principles states that "urban water tariffs should be set using a transparent methodology, through a process which seeks and takes into account public comment, or which is subject to public scrutiny." Unlike other regions where two-part tariff systems for water have been implemented, no such community consultation was undertaken by the WRC.
One example of where the current system is flawed is as follows. A business in the Category 17 (Commercial and Industrial A) with a property valuation of less than $1.5m will be charged $1271 per meter for the access charge. A similar business with a property valuation of greater than $1.5m and therefore in Category 18 (Commercial and Industrial B) with the same size meter connection will be charged $7944 per meter.
The council's Water Fact Sheet states that the higher access charges are set to reflect the higher potential of those properties to draw water from the council's system. If that is the case, the fixed water tariff for full service customers should not have anything to do with the property valuation but rather should be based on the size of a property’s metered water connection. This approach is used in many other jurisdictions around Australia and is accepted as best practice.
Clearly some businesses will suffer as a result of a rushed and poorly conceived process and will be up for excessive and unwarranted charges. This is on top of the region-wide 16% nett increase in general rates, 14% nett increase in garbage and sewerage, and the various increases in water consumption charges, depending on which part of the region you are located.
The WRC is now playing catchup, finally announcing the dates for the meetings to explain the content WRC budget two months after it was handed down and almost half way through the current water period.
Chris Monsour BOWEN Water concerns
BOWEN ratepayers should appreciate that a potable water supply involves pumping water from the Peter Faust dam aquifer to Bowen through a 65km line at great electrical cost. Not to mention associated storage, filtration, treatment, delivery, metering and maintenance costs. The Whitsunday community could not afford to continue to have ratepayers in Bowen consuming 750kL per year at the old price tariffs.
The intrinsic costs of supplying water to Bowen are simply not covered. The Brunker administration took on too much debt in one hit, instead of staging all major infrastructure works.
Bowen residents should be encouraged to conserve water, or otherwise face the real risk that the current infrastructure will not meet demand.
There is capacity for Bowen residents to conserve water consumption without impacting significantly on their lifestyle choices. Ratepayers are invited to refer to the State Government's Waterwise website for tools and tips on how to conserve water.
A ratepayer using 402kL per year will pay almost the same under the 2013/14 price as they would if the Original Funding Model were applied. However, if that ratepayer reduced consumption by 20% they could reduce the bill by $90. That is the key point, under a “user-pay” model ratepayers can determine how much to pay by their own water consumption.
There is no doubt water charges in Bowen have increased significantly - but comparatively Bowen ratepayers are coming off a lower base in the price for water. The proposal by some in Bowen that the Proserpine and Airlie Beach communities should continue to subsidize water services in Bowen does not equate to the constitution of the Whitsunday Ratepayers Association that rates should be fair and equitable.
The Bowen community uses a large amount of water, not all of which can be attributed to climate. The average of 436kL or mean of 402kL suggests that the allocation of 750kL is excessive. Someone has to pay for the cost of providing that water. Council cannot continue adding to the debt. The full cost of water services must be recovered, which is what the 2013/14 budget for Council aims to do on a fair and equitable basis.
Ross Plowman TREASURER WHITSUNDAY RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION Thank you
THANK you to all past and present Whitsunday residents who contributed their photos, their film, their music and their memories to the “Airlie Beach – The Good Old Days” DVD which was launched recently.
The biggest thank you however is to the talented photographer / film maker Adrian Connor. He became inspired by the history and the people of the Whitsundays and took a simple photography job at the June reunion to an amazing and unexpected level.
Adrian spent many, many voluntary hours collating the diverse contributions into an interesting, cohesive and heart warming DVD which has captured the essence of the early days of Airlie Beach. The accompanying photo DVD also contains both reunion and historical images.
From the June reunion and from the DVD launch has come a very strong desire to get together a group of interested locals with the time, the energy and the skills to share a project of gathering up and archiving the fast disappearing images and stories of our Whitsunday history. Oral history is just one essential part of this project.
Our magnificent regional museum in Proserpine is very supportive of this idea and it is hoped that they will be the repository of the treasures that will be collected.
To obtain copies of the “Airlie Beach – The Good Old Days” DVD and photo DVD and to express your interest in helping to preserve our Whitsunday history, please contact Pam Pole on 4946 1271 or 0448 870 482 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pam Pole MEMBER OF AIRLIE BEACH REUNION GROUP