Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Historic water Bill amendment for NSW Minns Government

The NSW Government will this week introduce history-making legislation to Parliament to amend the Constitution Act 1902 to protect Sydney Water and Hunter Water from privatisation.

As the first piece of legislation for the new Minns Government, Premier Chris Minns said the Government was delivering on its election commitment to safeguard the public ownership of the state’s critical public assets.

He said both Sydney Water and Hunter Water are statutory state owned corporations and can be safeguarded from privatisation by an amendment to the Constitution Act.

The Constitution Amendment (Sydney Water and Hunter Water) Bill 2023 proposes an amendment that will require those two specific corporations, and their main undertakings, to remain in public ownership by ensuring that those entities, may not be sold or disposed of. 

“We’ve seen what 12 years of privatisation of electricity network, ports and toll roads has done – it’s led to people having to pay higher prices to pay for services they use to own,” said Premier Minns.

“This ends this week. Under Labor there will be no more privatisation of essential assets.”

The Premier said the new provisions of the Constitution Act will be binding on the current and future governments. Only an Act of Parliament will be able to authorise the sale or disposal of Sydney Water or Hunter Water.

“Before the election I made a commitment to protect Sydney Water in the Constitution. This week my government delivers on that promise,” he said.

Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said the state economy has had short-term economic reliance on privatisation until now.

“That will end, and the first step is safeguarding the public ownership of Sydney Water and Hunter Water,” he said.

“The Bill will act as an effective safeguard on the sale of state-owned assets, limiting the government’s ability to sell off assets. Only an Act of Parliament will be able to authorise the sale of essential water assets.

“Sydney Water and Hunter Water are highly valuable state owned corporations. It simply does not make sense to privatise or even have the risk of privatisation, so we are ruling that out with this Bill.”

Minister for Water, Rose Jackson said the two entities had been created on behalf of the people of NSW.

“And this Bill will ensure they continue to operate in the best interests of the people of NSW,” she said.

“Sydney Water and Hunter Water have each served their communities for over 130 years. They provide critical drinking water and crucial infrastructure and profit is directed back into the NSW Government – it is basic common sense to keep these entities in public ownership.”

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