Tax hike isn’t the answer

Gatton Star - - INTO RURAL -

THE Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Author­ity re­leased its fi­nal re­port into ir­ri­ga­tion pric­ing, rec­om­mend­ing higher water prices and costs for farm­ers.

A re­view by the QCA is noth­ing but a fig leaf for the State Gov­ern­ment to claim it is keep­ing a lid on the ru­n­away costs of monopoly busi­nesses.

Let’s be clear about this. Water re­tail­ers Sun­wa­ter and Se­qwa­ter, like their col­leagues in the elec­tric­ity sec­tor, are busi­nesses ex­plic­itly de­signed to re­turn a profit to state cof­fers.

We need to drop the ro­man­tic and out­dated no­tion of them as pub­lic util­i­ties.

We also need to take a step back to un­der­stand how these pub­lic util­i­ties could turn par­a­sitic on the very in­dus­tries they were once de­signed to sup­port.

Back in 1942, Aus­tralia was en­gaged in the great­est con­flict the world had seen.

But when the war was over and our fo­cus nat­u­rally shifted back to health, ed­u­ca­tion, in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment and other vi­tal ser­vices de­liv­ered at the state level, the tax­ing pow­ers weren’t re­turned.

Two things have hap­pened in re­sponse, which for in­dus­try has turned from a wor­ry­ing trend into sad ac­cep­tance.

Our pub­lic water and elec­tric­ity util­i­ties have been turned from in­stru­ments of in­dus­try ad­vance­ment into poorly cam­ou­flaged tools of in­di­rect tax­a­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately there is no proper fix that’s easy.

It in­volves ei­ther re­turn­ing tax­ing pow­ers to states and ter­ri­to­ries or, more boldly, abol­ish­ing them as a level of gov­ern­ment.

Un­til ei­ther of those hap­pens, ru­ral Queens­land wants to see a com­mit­ment from the State Gov­ern­ment and the Op­po­si­tion to pri­ori­tise our prof­itabil­ity and de­cline the QCA’S rec­om­mended hikes on hid­den water taxes.

Pic­ture: File

WATER WOES: Grow­com chief ex­ec­u­tive David Thom­son says there no easy fix for the state’s ir­ri­ga­tion schemes.

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