The extreme cost of water is emerging as the smoking gun in the lead up to the coming State election. Like normal, there will be wish lists, that the City Council and surrounding Shires will take to the main parties, to elicit pledges so if they form government these commitments will be kept.
Returning taxes to the regions where most of the taxes are earned is something that should happen as a matter of course, and our region has never fared well, other than the brief period when Royalties for Regions was in full flourish.
The disgraceful level of charges that Goldfields water users now pay is something that has crept up on us, and to a degree I, with some shame, admit in the past I have been silent while water charges have risen well above the inflation rate year after year. Of course, the State Government hides behind the fact that the Water Corporation is an independent utility, but that aside, governments can give overall direction to utilities, and that is done with Western Power with our electricity charges, where Goldfields consumers pat the same as those in Collie, where our power comes from.
John Forrest and C.Y. O’Connor would turn over in their graves if they could see the amazing charges now being levied from their famous pipeline.
In a nutshell, local water charges for residents in Kalgoorlie, Boulder, Coolgardie and Kambalda are the highest, I believe, in Australia. I would love to be proven wrong, and will take advice to that end, however when Perth users are paying $4.442 per kilolitre for the highest level of usage, and residents in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Coolgardie and Kambalda are paying more than double that, at $9.062 per kilolitre on the highest level, there is definitely a case to be made.
The Water Corp, for decades now, have two figures in mind for what the pipeline operations cost. They have one cost which is always reasonably high when asked to justify the high charges for those at the end of the pipeline, however whenever there is competition in the wings, such as the proposed desalination plant and pipeline from Esperance, they suddenly have another, much lower figure to use when trying to beat off that opposition.
The hypocrisy is quite amazing.
Water, it was always said by the late Charles ‘Digger’ Daws, is more valuable than gold - although with today’s gold prices he may be struggling to keep that claim up - but he is right in that without water it’s very hard for us as a community to expand and have a place where our suburbs are green and people want to live here, that we can attract and keep our families. People here in Kalgoorlie-Boulder should not be discouraged from having a nice green garden and, if they want, a swimming pool. I’m told, when I raise this with Water Corp board members, that the higher charges are there to discourage waste. Well I know of no one in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, residential or business, who intentionally wastes water, and where else in the world would you have a business that is discouraging people from using their product?
The top end charges for Kalgoorlie-Boulder, and those charged for business, is the money that Water Corp makes its exorbitant profits out of and returns to the Government coffers. I know and worse still our famous pipeline of which we are so proud must have been amortized many times over and they’re still doing it. And more recently even, like true bureaucrats not having to justify having to justify their expenditure, talking about replacing the pipeline when the current one is clearly continuing to serve the purpose for which it was built.