NSW Labor is demanding the Liberal-National Government rule out lifting water prices during times of drought, warning it will widen social inequalities across Sydney.
It follows draft recommendations from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) which proposes the introduction of “scarcity pricing” from July along with a sharp cut in fixed water service charges. This means water bills in Sydney would rise and fall along with dam levels – essentially prices would increase during times of drought.
Labor’s Shadow Water Minister Clayton Barr slammed the proposal as outrageous.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic is already widening social and economic divisions. Access to water is a basic human right but this proposal runs the risk of making water unaffordable to millions of water users in Sydney,” Mr Barr said.
“I am calling on the Government to immediately rule it out, we simply cannot get into a situation where only the wealthy can afford to bathe.
“And what about businesses? How are they expected to budget for their operation costs when they don’t know what they’ll be paying year to year.”
Mr Barr suggested two other simple measures the Government could introduce instead to address the issue of water scarcity:
- Stop ripping $1 billion per year out of Sydney Water profits;
- Use the profits from Sydney Water to build water recycling capacity and more desalination capacity to stop NSW running low on water in the future.