BAIRD GOVERNMENT SENDS HARBOUR PROTECTION BACKWARDS

MEDIA RELEASE

Luke Foley MP Leader of the Opposition

 

Thursday 3 March 2016

The Baird Government’s cheap and nasty solution to build new sewage overflow pipes directly into Sydney Harbour is a return to the dark old days of wastewater management.

For decades, successive governments have been investing in new infrastructure and technology to limit the amount of untreated sewage reaching our precious waterways.

The $460 million North Side Storage Tunnel built by the Carr Labor Government is just one example of major infrastructure built to clean up Sydney Harbour by reducing untreated inflows.

In Mike Baird’s own backyard, Sydney Water invested $70 million in 2013 to build the Northern Beaches Storage Project to limit sewage overflows into local beaches. At the time, Mike Baird was quoted as saying:

“The NSW Government is committed to protecting the natural environment, and this storage facility will reduce the frequency of wastewater overflows and improve water quality across the Northern Beaches.

“The project is a good example of a local community coming together to find a solution, and government responding to the concerns raised.” [September, 2013]

If the Baird Government wasn’t gouging record dividends from Sydney Water, then funds would be available to improve wastewater capacity across the network and upgrade ageing infrastructure.

Figures published by the Auditor General, show the Liberal Government has doubled the amount of dividends and payments taken from Sydney Water over the last five years. Last year alone Mike Baird increased the take from Sydney Water by a whopping $372 million.

 

Sydney Water

2011 ($m)

2012 ($m)

2013 ($m)

2014 ($m)

2015 ($m)

Dividends

230

242

291

252

664

Income tax   equivalents

131

92

181

188

149

Government guarantee   fee

94

105

105

99

98

TOTAL PAYMENTS

455

439

577

539

911

 

Sydney Water’s obscurely named Internal Surcharge Improvement Program includes a new sewage overflow pipe into the Parramatta River right next to Drummoyne Wharf.

A number of other harbourside suburbs including Mosman, Putney and Concord are also listed under the program – although the nature of those projects are unclear and must be explained by Sydney Water.  

 

 

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“The government is gouging almost $1 billion from Sydney Water customers in dividends and payments.

“This means Sydney Water is forced to look at cheap and nasty solutions for managing wastewater, which includes dumping raw sewage straight into Sydney Harbour.

“This is taking Sydney back to the days of the horse and buggy and tossing bed pans in the gutter.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe

“Successive governments have spent the last three decades building a sewerage network that stops untreated waste getting into Sydney Harbour.

“This is what happens when a government puts dividends above water quality.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Gibb 0417 089 039 michael.gibb@parliament.nsw.gov.au