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    Minister for Energy and Water Supply
    The Honourable Mark McArdle

    State loosens political straightjacket for Council water businesses

    Minister for Energy and Water Supply
    The Honourable Mark McArdle

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    State loosens political straightjacket for Council water businesses

    THE Newman Government today introduced the South East Queensland Water (Distribution Retail and Restructuring) Amendment Bill, which will enable Council-owned water businesses to manage their workforces in the same way as any other organisation.

    Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said South East Queensland’s three Council-owned water distribution-retail companies – Allconnex*, UnityWater and Queensland Urban Utilities – would still need to honour established employee protections contained in current Enterprise Bargaining arrangements.

    Mr McArdle said the proposed amendments were recommended by SEQ Mayors and Council-owned water retail-distribution companies as a responsible and sustainable way to strategically plan and grow their water businesses to meet customer needs.

    “Without exception, the biggest customer need is price relief for struggling families,” Mr McArdle said.

    “The Newman Government is committed to good faith bargaining. Unlike Labor, we want to work with Councils in a joint effort to reduce household water bills.”

    Mr McArdle said the Queensland Competition Authority consistently warned the former Labor Government that Allconnex*, UnityWater and QUU were obliged to pass on the cost of all operational expenses to customers.

    “Labor simply didn’t get it. If operational costs are higher than they should be, so are the costs and charges paid by consumers,” he said.

    Mr McArdle said the new Queensland Government believed it was possible to properly reward staff, through Enterprise Bargaining, while also ensuring financial sustainability for Council-owned water providers.

    “The proposed amendments will place industrial relations changes for SEQ water retail companies back on a level playing field with any business developing an EBA with employees and unions,” he said.

    Mr McArdle encouraged SEQ water distribution-retail companies to quantify operational cost savings resulting from the proposed amendments – and all savings pass on through ongoing savings in household water bills.

    * From 1 July 2012, Gold Coast, Logan and Redland City Councils will resume the delivery of water and wastewater services in their area. Until then, Allconnex Water will deliver these services.

    [ENDS] 19 June 2012

    Media Contact: Minister’s Office 07 3896 3691