Labor Calls on Government to Reject “Drought Tax” Proposal

NSW Labor has called on the Government to reject a proposal to charge Sydney residents more for water in times of drought.

A draft proposal from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has recommended overhauling water pricing structures by replacing the existing water usage fee with a higher price in drought, and a lower one when dams are above 70% capacity.

The Shadow Minister for Water, Clayton Barr, has warned larger families and renters would be hit hard by the change and ultimately end up paying much more for water.

“This proposal is essentially a drought tax that would disproportionately hurt those who can’t afford to pay more for water. By my calculations, water bills would rise around 51 per cent on average during drought under the new model,” Mr Barr said.

“When Labor was in Government, it rejected a similar proposal. This Government must do the same, especially given the current economic climate. Many households simply won’t cope with that kind of price hike.”

An analysis of historic dam levels also shows 10 of the past 20 years would have triggered “drought” pricing.

IPART is expected to make a final determination later this month, with prices to take effect from July 1.