Tax hike isn’t the answer
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We need to drop the romantic and outdated notion of them as public utilities.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.
WATER WOES: Growcom chief executive David Thomson says there no easy fix for the state’s irrigation schemes.