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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 13 August 2015) . . Page.. 2847 ..

These services are funded through the national affordable housing agreement, the national partnership agreement on homelessness and the national rental affordability scheme. The provision of social housing to those most in need is core to the inclusive character of Canberra. I commend the proposed housing appropriation to the Assembly.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Icon Water Ltd—schedule 1, part 1.13.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (12.00): Icon Water appeared before the committee and we had a broad ranging discussion on 16 June. There was some discussion about the change of name and a few other things that had happened. I was particularly interested in how water charges had gone up. Icon took it as a question on notice and have provided a great deal of detail.

It is interesting that the average 200-kilolitre household in 2004-05 paid $276 for their water. In 2013-14, the last full year for which they had the details, they paid $610 per household. If you put the $276.50 into a CPI calculator and just assume that things go up by CPI over the period, the $276, when treated for CPI, goes up to $359 per household, yet they are paying $610 per household—70 per cent over what the CPI was. It is the same for water and sewerage charges. In 2004-05 the households paid on average $651; by the financial year 2013-14 they were paying $1,102. If you put the $651 into a CPI calculator for that decade, it only goes up under CPI to $848. Again, it is almost 70 per cent over what they should have been paying.

It is quite interesting that at a time when we all know that most households have reduced their usage of water, we end up paying a lot more. So there is a real question regarding the way this government treat taxpayers—the way they squeeze them. Under the old Ted Quinlan adage, it was a matter of “squeeze them till they bleed but not until they die”.

We looked at the issue of Icon’s debt and dividend—the money they give to the government to assist with the budget, the return on the investment of the people of the ACT. We were told in the annual reports hearings, late last year or early this year, that they had a working group to see whether they could repatriate some capital from ActewAGL. It is a working group with Treasury, and that work is proceeding. The committee came up with recommendation 59, in which it recommended:

… that the ACT Government provide details to the Assembly of any changes to the Icon Water dividend policy that may result from the working group’s advice, within five sitting days of its receipt.

It is very important because Icon does provide substantial amounts of funds back to the budget. When one checks the government response, it is simply “noted”. The government says it is continuing to consider the current policy for Icon Water and that the working group has been established. It says that any changes would be publicly announced in due course. It is an important issue and it is something that we will certainly be keeping an eye on.

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