The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
WATER HIKE ROW BOSS IS IN POWER
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.