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Coe floats new water authority to replace Icon

Ian Bushnell 14 June 2019 21

The raised Cotter Dam, Icon Water’s star infrastructure project. Alistair Coe is questioning whether the ACT’s monopoly water provider needs to be a corporation. File photo.

The ACT’s monopoly water provider, Icon Water, is in the sights of Opposition Leader Alistair Coe as he flags an overhaul of the Territory’s public administration if elected next year.

He took aim at Icon, carved out of ActewAGL in 2012, in his Budget reply speech, in particular the size of its executive salaries, and this week backed up with another attack on the organisation and its alleged corporate largesse.

As part of a general theme of value for money and fairness, Mr Coe said he was looking at returning Icon to the public service as a new water body or agency that did not require a corporate structure.

“I want to have a discussion about whether we do need to have a corporate structure for Icon Water or whether we could just have a water directorate, a water department, a simple water authority because at the moment it’s just not right that the managing director of Icon Water gets paid more than double of the head of Canberra Hospital. It’s just not right that the Chief Financial Officer of Icon water gets paid $100,000 more a year than the head of ACT Treasury,” he told ABC radio.

The managing director of Icon Water has an annual salary package worth $764,197.

Mr Coe said that with Icon the ACT now seemed to have the efficiency (sic) of government and the largesse of a corporation – the worst of both worlds.

“The point of a corporation is that they’re more nimble and can compete. We don’t have a market for water in the ACT, it’s a monopoly provider, we don’t need to have a corporate structure,” he said.

As well as Icon Water, Mr Coe took aim at the Planning and Land Authority and the length of time it was taking to process development applications and the Public Service in general, saying it was not delivering value for money despite record revenue.

But he ruled out cutting services or the number of public servants, saying he wants to empower public servants and de-stress the Public Service. He also accused the Government of running a scare campaign on his plan to freeze rates.

“We’re not in the business of cutting public servants, we’d rather be hiring,” he said.

Mr Coe said there was ‘real mismanagement’ from the Government.

 


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21 Responses to Coe floats new water authority to replace Icon
BlowMeDown 7:05 pm 20 Jun 19

So it was supposedly carved out of ACTEWAGL in 2012? Obviously not in entirety because Icon were able to use my ACTEWAGL electricity direct debit details in order to start direct debiting the water supply charge introduced in 2017.

I live in a unit where the body corporate pays for water usage (no individual unit meters) but the supply charge is billed direct to me.

It appears that when one agrees to a direct debit facility with an entity, if that entity splits the new entity inherits/clones all customer agreements in force at the time. That could go anywhere it likes out of any control over who can access my bank accounts. Scary. If Icon is pulled back into government does the ACT government then get uncontrolled access to my money? More than they have already?

Mark Ryan Mark Ryan 10:41 am 19 Jun 19

Good call if the rate payers are not getting value and the execs are not accountable for their performances via kpa's. Good government doesnt assume corporations are acting efficiently especially in this bubble town we live in.

Whitepointer 12:00 am 18 Jun 19

Sounds like privatisation is definitely on the cards.

Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 10:44 pm 17 Jun 19

Alistair Coe is sounding much more Labor than the Labor Government. Isn’t he supposed to be a Liberal?

Liberals love Executives who get million dollar salaries and even more in retirement parachutes.

Wayne Palmer Wayne Palmer 8:03 pm 17 Jun 19

And who will those jobs go to? How much will it cost to dissolve the current organisation?

Gwyn Rees Gwyn Rees 6:23 pm 17 Jun 19

It's not right that the norm around the country is to have commercial rate for water... instead ACT businesses have some of the highest water charges in Aust and a dunny tax.

HiddenDragon 5:56 pm 17 Jun 19

Cutting the executive salary budget of the local water and sewerage service is not going to fund the "freezing" (whatever that actually means in practice) of annual property rates.

Having made the rates promise, without any plausible detail (so far) about how it would be managed in an ACT Budget which is already under pressure, there will, of course, be what might be a "scare campaign" - why wouldn't there be? The "imagine our surprise when we got into government and discovered the true state of the books" stunt just doesn't cut it these days.

If the ACT Liberals are truly serious (and that may be quite a big "if") about offering a realistic alternative to the ACT electorate, they need to be upfront about what they have in mind. Something along the lines of protecting frontline/direct services, backed up by a reassuring degree of detail, would be a starting point.

If the comment about empowering public servants means political support to say no to the assorted cranks, control freaks and suburban authoritarians who have tended to see ACT self-government as a vehicle for ramming their views down the throats of the public, at a cost to the pockets and the liberties of the majority, then that might even be a vote winner.

maxblues 5:09 pm 17 Jun 19

This would be a win, win, win situation.

A win for the Public Service with more jobs.

A win for long-suffering ACT householders with reduced water rates.

A win for good old common sense.

Josh Watson Josh Watson 4:29 pm 17 Jun 19

Just a little more then the prime minister gets

Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 2:04 pm 17 Jun 19

Wait.. what's the opposition's salary? Can we compare?

Horehey Kissenoulis Horehey Kissenoulis 1:05 pm 17 Jun 19

Why do you need to replace Icon Water to do this?

Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 11:12 am 17 Jun 19

Alistair Coe is sounding much more Labor than the Labor Government. Isn’t he supposed to be a Liberal?

Liberals love Executives who get million dollar salaries and even more in retirement parachutes.

Chris Cross Chris Cross 10:54 am 17 Jun 19

Jeez... you’d think there was a local election coming soon or something 😉? Attack those rich evil executives that everyone hates. I bet he’s setting up the dominos to propose privatisation. Icon Water is costing us too much, so let’s sell!!

Michael Doherty Michael Doherty 10:50 am 17 Jun 19

Only if it reduces our water bills.

Justin Watson Justin Watson 10:29 am 17 Jun 19

Hang on isn't that why the Liberals exist to support struggling executives that don't get paid at least 7 figures.

Camm Kelly Camm Kelly 10:21 am 17 Jun 19

Pointing at executive salaries is a bit naff, but he is right, why have a corporate entity in a monopoly market?

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 10:36 am 17 Jun 19

    Jacob Kelly because privatisation of the national electricity grid has worked so well...

    Camm Kelly Camm Kelly 10:39 am 17 Jun 19

    Indeed, it didn't work well at all

Warwick Jay Warwick Jay 10:18 am 17 Jun 19

This is the most Labor thing I’ve ever heard a Liberal leader propose. Corporation bad, public service good???

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