The Victorian Coalition Government has today directed Melbourne Water to freeze prices and not implement increases in the cost of water until all money collected from customers for the desalination plant has been returned.
Water Minister Peter Walsh said under the pricing structure set under the previous government, consumers were going to be hit by a further increase of 9.6 per cent.
“We have taken decisive action to return this money to customers as quickly as possible,” Mr Walsh said.
“The reality is that Labor’s decision to build the plant will see Melbourne households pay $400 every year for the next 27 years.
“Advice from the consortium building the desalination plant indicates commissioning will begin in August, with full payments expected to begin in February 2013.
“Customers will be slugged with huge price increases as a result of Labor’s desalination plant coming online, but the actions we are taking will ensure they do not pay for the plant before it is operational.
“Labor's water plan had the cost of water increasing by 9.6 per cent from July 1 this year to pay for the plant.
“I have instructed the retailers to freeze prices until this money and any interest collected on it is fully utilised in meeting payments on the desalination plant.”
Mr Walsh said Melbourne Water had collected $231 million, not the $306 million that had been previously reported.
The $177 average per household impact is also incorrect. Advice from Melbourne Water indicates the impact ranges between $40 and $100 per customer, depending on the level of water consumption.
“The Coalition Government has instructed Melbourne Water to return all money with interest collected for the desalination plant,” Mr Walsh said.
“I have also written to the Essential Services Commission asking it to oversee and independently verify the return of this money,” Mr Walsh said.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
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