Thursday, 10 March 2016
MEMBER for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay has urged the government to hold Barwon Water accountable for frivolous spending as Geelong residents prepare for a water price hike.
In parliament this week, Mr Ramsay asked Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville to explain the extraordinary behaviour of Barwon Water’s chair, after complaints to his office suggested she had demanded a $30,000 temporary chairman’s office at taxpayers’ cost.
“While discussing the decision to turn on the desalination plan, the Minister has acknowledged that every dollar matters to families,” he said.
“However, Barwon Water’s customers will be slugged with additional water costs from the desalination plant while $30,000 of construction work will be wasted on temporary accommodation for Barwon Water’s chairman, hand-picked by Minister Neville.
“Culture is catchy. If it is OK for the government to waste billions on scrapping the East-West Link and running a desalination plant we don’t need, it soon becomes OK for mere mortal part-time chairs to waste money as well.”
Mr Ramsay also questioned the intent behind the government’s decision to turn on the desalination plant.
“The Andrews government has been looking for a reason to vindicate the former Brumby government’s decision to build the desalination plant more than six years ago,” he said.
“There is no water emergency; there is only a political emergency to show that the plant was really worth it, and with it comes increasing costs for water corporations and voters.
“Next month’s long-range forecast says that it will be a very wet March, so why turn on the desalination plant?
“The political answer is that this might be the best time in the electoral cycle to show that the former Brumby ministers may not have been the duds Victorians thought they were.
“Minister Neville was one of the Brumby ministers who decided to build the desalination plant in the first place.”