Unitywater have released their new pricing for commercial premises.

Whilest it too early to analyse the figures fully, there are two notable points .. the Sunshine Coast Region has closed the gap with Moreton by approx. $ 100 per year. The other point is it is cheaper to use water from a residential tap then a commercial tap.

Maybe the the commercial users are getting a higher grade of water.

If commercial premises are charged more ,the owners will pass it onto the shop tenants, who will then pass it onto the customer or go broke.

SAY NO TO INDIRECT TAXING. 

Unitywater are claiming that they will lose approx. $ 1.25 million per year.....The tooth fairy has arrived! 

Tell your councillors enough is enough! And they will be looking for a new job in March,2016

WANT CHEAP WATER ...MOVE TO CAIRNS

A CAIRNS RATEPAYER RECENTLY RECEIVED THEIR WATER BILL WHICH IS ISSUED 3 TIMES PER YEAR. THEIR TOTAL WATER USAGE BY THEIR TENANT WAS 46 KILOLITRES... TOTAL BILL $51.06 FOR 4 MONTHS. YEARLY TOTAL IS APPROX.$ 153.18 PER YEAR.

NO WATER & SEWERAGE ACCESS CHARGES.THE WATER & SEWERAGE IS CONTROLLED BY CAIRNS REGIONAL COUNCIL.

POOR BASTARDS THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MISSING BY NOT HAVING UNITYWATER AS THEIR RETAILER.  

COPIES OF THE THE BILL WILL BE POSTED ON THIS SITE SHORTLY. 

22 - 09 - 2014

UNITY WATER FAILS AGAIN!!!!

Tenants at a high set property situated in Anzac Avenue, Redcliffe have contacted Unitywater on several occasions to address a major issue they are having with their water supply.

The tenants state their water supply is erratic, with it cutting out many times each day for up to 40 minutes.  This has been an ongoing issue since July, since Unitywater replaced their water meter.  An example was provided where on Tuesday 15th July the following times were recorded:

Off                         On

8.30am                  8.45

8.55                       9.00

9.02                       9.05

9.30                       9.36

9.45                       9.47

10.00                     10.01

10.18                     10.20

10.40                     10.43

11.50                     12.30pm

12.38                     1.00

1.10                       1.15

1.20                       1.25

3.10                       3.15

6.15                       6.17

6.35                       6.40

6.50                       7.00

7.55                       8.00

8.15                       8.25

9.05                       9.10

11.15pm                 11.20

Unitywater initially organised for a replacement meter, and subsequently the plumber who replaced the water meter stated the loss of pressure was due to galvinised pipes.  This has been proven false as upon further inspection the pipes are copper. 

Furthermore, Unitywater has been charging for 100% service, but as can be seen by this above example, it would difficult for these people to plan their basic hygiene and cooking needs based around this erratic timetable, leading us to believe that the service has not been appropriately provided as expected of a professional specialist company. Unitywater should reimburse paid dues and investigate and fix the problem immediately.

Dennis Austen, President of the Ratepayers Action Group Moreton Bay, has stated that he approached the CEO of Unitywater before releasing this to the press in an effort to try and sort the problem, but no reply was received.  Furthermore, owing to their lack of response, this matter will be going before the courts.  The Ratepayers Action Group would be interested to hear from any other ratepayers in the Moreton Bay region that are having similar problems with their water supply. 

 

Minister says desalination plant a $15m per year insurance policy against drought


 
Aerial photo of the desalination plant.

Aerial photo of the desalination plant. Source: News Limited

THE city’s mothballed $1.2 billion desalination plant could be turned on within four years sparking fears Gold Coasters will be hit with big water bills.

Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey exclusively told the Bulletin the defunct plant would not be decommissioned despite costing taxpayers $15 million a year to sit idle.

A Seqwater spokesman said the plant would be needed to deal with Queensland’s booming population but denied ratepayers would be slugged with increased water bills.

However, Gold Coast water boss Paul Taylor said the flawed project would inevitably put pressure on bills.

“The desalination plant is sitting there doing nothing at a massive cost to taxpayers,” he said.

“The state owns the water and sells it back to us so massive costs will indirectly increase the cost of water on the Gold Coast.

“Last year there was a 13 per cent increase in the cost of water. It is no wonder the price goes up when the State Government spends $15 million a year maintaining an asset that does nothing.”

Photo of the desalination plant at Tugun.

Photo of the desalination plant at Tugun. Source: News Limited 

Mr Bailey hailed the Gold Coast desalination plant as “$15 million insurance policy” to protect Queenslanders from tough times.

“Water is a critical part of our daily lives and this desalination plant is the South East’s $15 million insurance policy when times get tough in the drought or in natural disasters,” Mr Bailey said.

“As such, there are no plans to decommission the Gold Coast desalination plant.”

The plant has been used sporadically since becoming operational in 2010, but Mr Bailey said it would be a “saviour” in times of drought.

Settling ponds at the Tugun desal plant.

Settling ponds at the Tugun desal plant. Source: News Limited 

“Many people will remember when this desal plant was the saviour of southeast Queensland’s water supply during the devastating 2011 floods and more recently in 2013,” he said.

“At that time, it supplemented the South East’s water supplies when Brisbane’s largest water treatment plant at Mt Crosby was shut down.

“Good governments, responsible governments, plan for the future.

“Seqwater advises that in four years’ time, we may well need to use the desalination plant to ensure water supplies during peak demand periods over the summer.”

Former Water Minister Mark McArdle says Moreton Bay Regional Council should do more for battlers and pensioners

 
Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) has hit back at State Government claims it is not doing enough to help struggling families and pensioners with their water bills.

Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle this week told MBRC it should match the State’s SEQ pensioner water subsidy of $120 a year.

Mr McArdle said MBRC should use some of the profits from the council-owned water business, Unitywater, to “insulate” pensioners against price increases this year.

But MBRC Corporate Services spokesman Cr Bob Millar said the minister’s comments were “regrettable and “unhelpful”.

“Moreton Bay Region is one of the council areas that has already done a disproportionate amount of the heavy lifting on water prices and experienced significant price increases for bulk water to pay off the state’s debt,” Cr Millar said.

“All we’re asking is a fair go, and for higher bulk water increases to be applied to other council areas in the south east that have to date paid much less.”

Mr McArdle also called on MBRC to “follow the example of Brisbane City Council, which earns a proportionally lower rate of return from its water company, Queensland Urban Utilities, but uses the council-owned company’s profit to pay for a very generous water rebate for pensioners”.

“While Seqwater loses money, Moreton Bay Regional Council receives a dividend from water and sewerage charges,” he said.

“Council should explain what it does with the dividends it receives from residents’ water bills.”

But Cr Millar responded by calling on the minister to “explain to Moreton Bay Region residents why they continue to pay significantly more than their neighbours for the same bulk water the state supplies to Unitywater”.

“It is also unreasonable to compare the higher population densities of the Brisbane City Council area with that of the Moreton Bay Region for the delivery of water and sewage services,” Cr Millar said.

“The participation return paid to council by Unitywater is determined by the State government’s own water legislation and is reinvested by council in community infrastructure and delivering the lowest possible rates for ratepayers.”

Council recently submitted to the Queensland Competition Authority that the price path for State controlled bulk water charges be applied equitably across local government areas with those councils who have so far been paying less to pay more into the future.

All SEQ council’s will be paying the same amount for bulk water by the 2017/18 financial year if no changes are made to the current price bath for bulk water charges.

Mr McArdle said the State had worked to decrease bulk water price increases mapped out by the previous State government.

The State bulk water charge makes up 29 per cent of an average Unitywater bill.

Source: Quest News

Moreton Bay Region water users pay more than Sunshine Coast via Unitywater

 
UnityWater is charging residents of Moreton Bay more than the Sunshine Coast for the same service.

It is another blow for local residents who are struggling to find a solution for increasing water bills as Unitywater, Moreton Bay Regional Council and the State Government all try to defect the blame to each other.

Pensioner Norm Chitts owns a house at Woody Point and an investment property in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast. He said he wanted the rest of the Peninsula to know about the huge price difference he notices in his two bills.

“I’m not crying poor, but I do feel it is unfair between the two areas and our residents are being charged so much more,” Mr Chitts said.

A spokeswoman said there were a number of reasons for the price difference, including the greater value of assets in Moreton Bay and that “Moreton Bay has only 47 properties per kilometre of water pipeline, while the Sunshine Coast has 54”.

“The value of assets per customer and the investment needed to upgrade and maintain those assets is a major contributor to pricing in each area,” the spokeswoman said.

“The more the infrastructure is worth, the more it costs to upgrade and maintain it.

“The more customers connected to existing assets, the less it costs to provide the service for each customer and the cheaper the bill becomes.”

Unitywater also pointed out that a house and unit are subject to different pricing structures.

Mr Chitts is charged $2.437/kl for the State bulk water price in his Woody Point home but only $1.588/kl on the Sunshine Coast. This price is determined by the State Government and is different in each council area.

All of the prices determined by Unitywater — water usage, sewerage treatment, water access and sewerage access — are greater in Moreton Bay compared to the Sunshine Coast.

This comes after a water forum was held at Bribie Island last week, where about 500 people attended to no avail.

Clive Selwood from Kippa-Ring said he left the meeting with little hope, despite a “working group” being formed.

“I don’t know if anything will come out of it, the Minister said nothing’s going to change,” he said.

The Unitywater spokeswoman said the new pricing structure gave more customers control over their bills and suggested water-saving measures as a way to “help reduce bills”.

A statement from MBRC on behalf of Mayor Allan Sutherland deflected questions on pricing to Unitywater and noted Unitywater and the State Government were responsible for water pricing.

“The biggest strength of Unitywater is its economies of scale which provides opportunities for further efficiencies,” Cr Sutherland said.

Source: Quest News

Who owns Unitywater? “Not I” says Moreton Bay Regional Council and State Government - but local expert may have the answer

 
THE mystery of who actually owns Unitywater is now a little closer to being solved.

It is a question which has dogged ratepayers for years and almost become a modern-day revision of the nursery rhyme Who Killed Cock Robin?

So who owns this statutory authority that provides water and sewerage to residents of Moreton Bay Regional Council?

We put question to the ­relevant parties. “Not I,” said the State Government. “I own Seqwater.”

State Member for Pine Rivers Seath Holswich said: “Seqwater sold bulk water at a loss (last year) to council-owned water companies like Unity­water.’’

Moreton Bay Regional Council was keen to distance itself from ownership of Unitywater.

At the top of his divisional newsletter for July-August, planning spokesman Councillor Mick Gillam wrote: “It (Unitywater) is run by an independent board (and) the board by law must be there for the benefit of the company not an external party.”

We asked Unity­water who owned it. A spokesman said: “(Unitywater) is a statutory authority with three shareholders – the Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Noosa Councils – and is governed by an independent board.’’

Dayboro solicitor Robert Garvey said Unitywater was best understood by the legislation which established it.

“I agree Unitywater is not owned by the councils. It is designed to be ‘independent’,” Mr Garvey said. “Councillors can appoint themselves to the board.’’

However, the solicitor had a cynical view of how the “unowned” Unitywater came into being.

“It is a useful device for government/politicians who can distance themselves from unpopular decisions such as water charges and investment decisions,’’ he said.
Source: Courier-Mail

Unitywater bosses in cash splash

 
Six Unitywater bosses were awarded $280,000 in performance bonuses, while ratepayers were slugged with skyrocketing water bills.

The water retailer’s CEO George Theo, whose salary now tops $368,000, was one of the bureaucrats who cashed in on the bonuses revealed in Unitywater’s annual report, which was tabled in Parliament last night.

Moreton Bay Mayor Allan Sutherland said the high bonuses were “extremely disappointing”, but Unitywater chair Jim Soorley said they were justified and rejected any comparison of bonuses to water prices.

Mr Theo, as well as five other top executives, took home a combined $280,581 in extra cash on top of their salary – which averages out at more than $46,600 each.

It was up $60,000 on the total bonuses paid out last year, which is an almost 30 per cent increase.

Little explanation is given for the basis of the cash splash, other than “achievements of corporate, divisional and individual targets”.

It comes in the same year that Unitywater customers, residents of Moreton Bay, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast, were slugged with 5 per cent water price increases, well in excess of CPI.

Based on an average home using 166 kilolitres of water a year, Sunshine Coast residents were hit with a $69 hike, which brought their bill up to $1337, while Moreton Bay residents were slugged $1689, which is up $83.

Unitywater put its consumption charge and fixed charges up 3.5 per cent, while the State Government’s bulk water charges increased up to 13 per cent. Cr Sutherland said the bonus payouts sent the wrong signal.

“I’m extremely disappointed that when we’re trying to keep prices low, highly paid executives are getting so-called bonuses,” he said.

Mr Soorley said executives worked hard to keep costs and prices down. “The Unitywater team has done an extremely good job,” he said.

Source: Quest News

Stress on families as water price more than doubles

 
WATER prices in the seaside community of Redcliffe have more than doubled in the past five years.

That’s one of the biggest price increases in southeast Queensland.

Before Unitywater took control of water supplies to Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast councils in July 2010, Redcliffe residents paid an average yearly bill of $832.

The average annual bill is now more than $1680, based on a home using 166 kilolitres of water per year.

Unitywater announced price increases yesterday, which means Sunshine Coast residents will pay $1337, up $69 on last year, while Moreton Bay residents will pay $1689, up $83 on last year.

The difference in bills between the two regions under Unitywater has been blamed on high growth in Moreton Bay, which includes Redcliffe, Caboolture and Pine Rivers, necessitating construction of water and sewerage infrastructure.

What your water will cost you now

Scare as lead found in North-East Tasmania water source

Redcliffe nurse and mother of two Claire Elfverson said the cost of water had rocketed and her family had to keep making cuts to keep bills under control.

“We even ripped up the vege garden because we knew we wouldn’t be able to afford to keep watering it,” she said. “By the time you pay the rates, water and electricity, it takes a big chunk out of your budget.”

Unitywater put its consumption charge and fixed charges up 3.5 per cent, while the State Government’s bulk water charges increased up to 13 per cent.

In the past five years, the annual water bill for Pine Rivers residents rose from $1087 to $1689, or 55 per cent; Caboolture residents rose from $1032 to $1689, or 63 per cent, while water costs for Sunshine Coast residents went up from $1044 to $1337, or 28 per cent.

Unitywater did not respond to questions about Redcliffe prices, but in a statement CEO George Theo said it was making savings to keep prices down, but admitted more could be done.

Before Unitywater took over, Redcliffe paid less for water than any other Moreton Bay council region but was brought up to parity with Pine Rivers and Caboolture in 2010 – a 66 per cent increase.

Unitywater has also previously said Moreton Bay residents must pay more because upgrades were needed to keep pace with growth.

Source: News dot com dot au
Attention -
Allan Sutherland-
Mayor Moreton Bay Regional Council .
From -
Rodney Hansen .
 
Dear Sir,
As the joint owners of Unitywater, MBRC , SCC and Noosa are Unitywaters price regulators , not the board of Unitywater.
Why then does Council not act as the water services price regulator which is their statutory role under the local Government Act for commercial business subsidiaries that are natural monopoly service suppliers under the C O A G local government reform agreements signed in 2004 ?
Regards,
Rodney Hansen .

 

Dear Mr Hansen

UNITYWATER

Thank you for your email dated 16 December 2014 regarding the legal status of

Unitywater. I refer to my previous letters to you in relation to this matter and the entity's relationship with its participating local governments.

I am advised that participating local governments are not Unitywater's "price regulator" and Unitywater is not a "commercial business subsidiary" of the participating local governments. Further, your comments regarding council's

statutory role under the Local Government Act 2009 and your reference to "COAG local government reform agreements" are incorrect.

As previously indicated in my correspondence to you, water pricing is ultimately a matter for the State Government and Unitywater.

I trust the above information clarifies Council's position.

Yours sincerely

ALLAN SUTHERLAND Mayor

Our ref: A10302377; A10284641

 

UNITYWATER IS GENEROUS

Unitywater gives their workers a mileage allowance when supplying them Unitywater trucks. In some cases the worker with the the truck has to pick up other members of his team sometimes up to 20 kms from his place of residence & drop them home. Plus getting paid whilest he is picking up his team. Who said Unitywater does not care about their workers? 

Ratepayers  should not hold their breath in the  hope that there will be a slight decrease in water charges in 2015.
The Queensland Competition Authority has recommended that  the State Government abandon plans to increase the cost of bulk water next year for Moreton Bay residents . The Water Supply Department website  shows an increase of  9 %  planned from  July 1, 2015, with the average Moreton Bay household to pay $585 for bulk water .
But the Q C A has recommended in a draft report into water prices that a rate cut of 2 % instead be passed on to consumers  rather than the 9 % increase .
If the Q C A  recommendation is accepted , the price of bulk water for  the average householder in the Moreton Bay Region will fall by $8 per year . Not really a major windfall for struggling consumers . 
This really  only confirms that we have been overcharged for our water  all along .
 
Rodney Hansen – Morayfield .
 
 
The mere fact that the Queensland Competition Authority has recommended a reduction of 2% in the cost of our bulk water, indicates that we have been overcharged all along . The $8 reduction, per year,  in the average water bill for a  struggling consumer  goes no way in giving any relief.
You couldn’t even buy a packet of seeds to replace the plants that have died because people are to afraid to use any water .
 
Rodney Hansen – Morayfield . 
With reference to the article “Team fights foul smells “, in the July 4  edition of the Herald where it states - 
“In a world first, Queensland researchers and industry professionals have teamed up to put a lid on sewerage odours and corrosion once and for all.
The University of Queensland has joined forces with Unitywater to trial a new product that could keep hydrogen sulfide odours at bay and reduce maintenance costs significantly.
Cloevis, a bacteria-fighting chemical, has been trialled at a Scarborough pumping station for the past four months, and researchers are already reporting positive results.
Unitywater technical support and innovation manager David Fillmore said sewer-pipe corrosion was a worldwide problem. Pending trial success and council approval, the company is hoping to roll out the product through its networks as early as mid 2015.
Moreton Bay Regional Council  and its councillors through their various newsletters and media releases  have consistently stated that they have nothing to do with Unitywater, and in fact cannot tell them what to do .
In Councillor James Houghton’s newsletter from June/ July 2014 he states “ Problems with Unitywater ?  Don’t call Council! and “Does Council own Unitywater” – No!
Councillor Gary Parson also states in his newsletter from June/ July 2014- “ We do not own the assets “.
Why than would Unitywater be seeking “ Council Approval “  before it  rolls out the product through its networks ?
Yes , we the consumers  think there is a foul smell, and it’s not coming from the pipes !
 
Rodney Hansen – Morayfield .

Unitywater CIO joins NSW Government

 
 
Unitywater CIO Mat Thomas has left the south east Queensland water utility to join the IT team at NSW's Office of Environment and Heritage.

Thomas has accepted a role as director of ICT delivery in the OEH's business information and services unit, working under fellow Queensland Government defector, former Transport and Main Roads CIO Chris Fechner.

Thomas told iTnews he has "taken up a role back in NSW to be closer to family and friends".

He said he has left behind an IT landscape at Unitywater that is "well established", having taken the agency from a start up in 2010 to a "platform for future operational efficiency".

Thomas spent four years at Unitywater, overseeing the ground-up build and consolidation of the organisation from the merger of water distribution and sewerage operations functions of the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast Regional Councils.

His legacy included a $30 million project for the full replacement of customer information and billing systems, and the integration of finance, HR and critical asset management systems.

Thomas was named as a finalist for iTnews' Utilities CIO of the Year in 2013 for his work on the program.



 

Stop misleading your ratepayers: McArdle to Councillor Jorge Branco | 16th Jul 2014 6:00 AM Updated: 2:48 PM  

DETERMINED: Protesters gather at Unitywater's Caboolture office.

DETERMINED: Protesters gather at Unitywater's Caboolture office. Jorge Branco


STATE Water Minister Mark McArdle's office has accused a Moreton Bay regional councillor of deliberately misleading ratepayers about the ownership of Unitywater but the council is standing firm.

In his June-July newsletter Division 5 councillor James Houghton told readers the council did not own Unitywater.

"Problems with Unitywater? Don't call council!" he wrote.

"Does council own Unitywater? Answer: No!"

The Unitywater website states "Unitywater is a statutory authority, jointly and wholly-owned by the Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast Regional and Noosa Shire Councils" but Cr Houghton and a Moreton Bay Regional Council spokesman both stood by the claims.

"If it was owned by us, we'd b! e telling them what to do," Cr Houghton said.

"We've got no say whatsoever in it."

The council spokesman said: "as required by state legislation, Moreton Bay Regional Council is a participant in Unitywater, not an owner."

A spokesman for Mr McArdle insisted MBRC, along with the Sunshine Coast Council and Noosa Shire Council, jointly owned Unitywater.

"Cr Houghton is deliberately misleading ratepayers," he said.

"Moreton Bay Regional Council along with the other council owners appoint the board that runs Unitywater on its behalf.

"Unitywater has a participation agreement with its owner councils. It sets out governance and reporting arrangements and how profits are distributed.

"Of the total issued participation rights for Unitywater, Moreton Bay Regional Council has 58.24%, Sunshine Coa! st has 37.51% and Noosa has 4.25%." 

Ratepayers Action Group spokesman Dennis Austen. Photo Jorge Branco / Caboolture News

Ratepayers Action Group spokesman Dennis Austen. Photo Jorge Branco / Caboolture News Jorge Branco

A RATEPAYER advocate says the whole issue boils down to money.

At a protest earlier this month, Ratepayers Action Group's Dennis Austen said at the end of the day, the only thing people really cared about was cost.

"All we want is the prices down," he said.

"Do people really care about de-amalgamation? Do they really ca! re about Unitywater? I don't think so.

"I think all they want to do is see the b******* prices down."

Mr Austen made the comments at a protest against the water retailer in Caboolture on July 4.

He and 25 other protesters gathered with Unite Against Unity placards and a megaphone to discuss water pricing.

"The main thing we're here for today is to just make our presence known," Mr Austen told the gathering.

"While we're not great in number, we're just continuing to chip away at the edges.

"This is an election year - eight months away now from an election. It's going to be interesting to see if Labor or Liberal promise to do anything about the situation."

A Unitywater spokeswoman said the company would try to increase efficiency to keep costs and prices down.

&qu! ot;Unitywater announced a 3.5% increase as of 1 July 2014. This is one of the smallest increases across water and sewerage service providers in SEQ," she said.

The State Government increased bulk water prices (shown as a separate component on your bill) by 10.1% on July 1, adding further pressure to water bills.

The increase was part of the bulk water "price path" that will see all south-east Queensland council regions paying $3217/ML for bulk water by 2017-18 - an almost 20% increase from this financial year.

Speaking after the protest, Mr Austen said the group's aim was to keep water prices down. He said disbanding Unitywater was the best way to do so, but failing that he wanted to see a representative of the public on the Unitywater board.

A spokesman for Moreton Bay Regional Council said the three participating councils, including Noosa,! Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay, were jointly responsible for appointing board members.

"There are currently no local government representatives on the board of Unitywater," he said.

The spokesman said there were no available positions on the Unitywater board. Each Council has the right to elect a councillor to the board of Unitywater. Also, the Council can direct Unitywater in writing on any matter.

You can find out more about the Unite Against Unity campaign at http://www.uniteagainstunity.info/.

Unitywater staff reject 2.2 per cent pay rise offer after board’s 5 per cent pay increase revealed

Unitywater staff reject 2.2 per cent pay rise offer after board’s 5 per cent pay increase revealed

 
Unitywater
 chairman Jim Soorley was paid $105,000 in 2013-14.

Unitywater chairman Jim Soorley was paid $105,000 in 2013-14. Source: News Limited

UNITYWATER staff have snubbed a 2.2 per cent pay offer following revelations board members received more than double that.

Strike action is on the cards at the water retailer unless the parties get back to the negotiating table following results of the staff ballot on the pay deal being revealed yesterday.

The Services Union said reports the water retailer’s board members enjoyed a 5 per cent increase this year fuelled anger in the staff, resulting in a large voter response as more than 80 per cent of workers rejected the offer.

But the water retailer’s CEO George Theo said it was “nonsensical” to compare the board’s pay to staff, as this was the board’s first pay increase in four years while workers received successive increases totalling 11.4 per cent – or 2.85 per cent a year – in that time.

BONUSES: Unitywater bosses in cash splash

LEAK: Unitywater grants board members 5 per cent pay increase

The board’s chairman Jim Soorley was paid $105,000 in 2013-14, while the other members Barry Casson, Sharon Doyle, Megan Houghton and Mike Williamson earn $56,000 to $61,000.

Staff were offered a 2.2 per cent rise, but would lose one rostered day off per month.

The Services Union acting secretary Jennifer Thomas said more than 488 of the 600 staff returned their votes, with 81 per cent of those rejecting the deal.

“It was very clearly in response to what the board members are getting paid,” Ms Thomas said.

“Staff have seen nothing from management or the board in terms of what they have had to give up (to keep prices down).”

She said industrial action could follow if Unitywater failed to return to the negotiating table, but that would only affect internal processes, not the customers.

But Mr Theo said Unitywater was working with a wage policy advised by the Public Service Commission, offering the 2.2 per cent rise in return for improved productivity by changing the number of days worked.

“There is no connection between this and the board increase and comparisons between the two are nonsensical,” he said.

“Our aim was to improve productivity and reduce costs to help ensure that our services remain affordable.”

Stress on families as water price more than doubles

by: Matthew Killoran

 
 
Claire Elfverson of Redcliffe and her son James use the hose for a rare garden watering.

Claire Elfverson of Redcliffe and her son James use the hose for a rare garden watering. Picture: Mark Calleja Source: News Limited

WATER prices in the seaside community of Redcliffe have more than doubled in the past five years.

That’s one of the biggest price increases in southeast Queensland.

Before Unitywater took control of water supplies to Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast councils in July 2010, Redcliffe residents paid an average yearly bill of $832.

The average annual bill is now more than $1680, based on a home using 166 kilolitres of water per year.

Unitywater announced price increases yesterday, which means Sunshine Coast residents will pay $1337, up $69 on last year, while Moreton Bay residents will pay $1689, up $83 on last year.

The difference in bills between the two regions under Unitywater has been blamed on high growth in Moreton Bay, which includes Redcliffe, Caboolture and Pine Rivers, necessitating construction of water and sewerage infrastructure.

 

What your water will cost you now

Scare as lead found in North-East Tasmania water source

 

Redcliffe nurse and mother of two Claire Elfverson said the cost of water had rocketed and her family had to keep making cuts to keep bills under control.

“We even ripped up the vege garden because we knew we wouldn’t be able to afford to keep watering it,” she said. “By the time you pay the rates, water and electricity, it takes a big chunk out of your budget.”

Unitywater put its consumption charge and fixed charges up 3.5 per cent, while the State Government’s bulk water charges increased up to 13 per cent.

In the past five years, the annual water bill for Pine Rivers residents rose from $1087 to $1689, or 55 per cent; Caboolture residents rose from $1032 to $1689, or 63 per cent, while water costs for Sunshine Coast residents went up from $1044 to $1337, or 28 per cent.

Unitywater did not respond to questions about Redcliffe prices, but in a statement CEO George Theo said it was making savings to keep prices down, but admitted more could be done.

Before Unitywater took over, Redcliffe paid less for water than any other Moreton Bay council region but was brought up to parity with Pine Rivers and Caboolture in 2010 – a 66 per cent increase.

Unitywater has also previously said Moreton Bay residents must pay more because upgrades were needed to keep pace with growth.

Unitywater grants board members 5 per cent pay increase while offering staff 2.2 per cent

Unitywater grants board members 5 per cent pay increase while offering staff 2.2 per cent

Chairman Jim Soorley has defended a pay rise for Unitywater board members.

Chairman Jim Soorley has defended a pay rise for Unitywater board members. Source: News Limited

UNITYWATER board members have been given double the pay rise being offered to its staff – and it matches the increase in the average water bill.

A confidential memo reveals a 5 per cent increase in the board members’ fees was approved in May to take effect from July 1, while for following years it will increase with CPI.

Meanwhile, the workers on the ground will soon vote on an offer of 2.2 per cent increase as part of their EBA negotiations, which will also take away one rostered day off per month.

Unitywater board chairman Jim Soorley defended the pay rise, saying it was their first increase in four years.

The water retailers’ annual report revealed the top six executives were given a combined $280,000 in bonuses.

Mr Soorley’s pay is set to rise to $105,000 a year.

BONUSES: Unitywater bosses in cash splash

SOUTHEAST: Councils plead for dropping of bulk water charges

The pay of fellow board members Barry Casson, Sharon Doyle, Megan Houghton and Mike Williamson will increase by about $3000 each.

The Services Union acting secretary Jennifer Thomas said staff had been told their pay had to be kept to a minimum so water prices could stay low for customers.

“The same rules clearly don’t apply to management,” she said. It’s a slap in the face. I don’t know anyone getting a 5 per cent increase at the moment.”

Mr Soorley, a former Brisbane lord mayor, said the fee was the equivalent of 1.25 per cent over four years because the board had not been given a pay rise since 2010.

He said changing from a nine-day fortnight to a 19-day four-week cycle – effectively removing one rostered day off for staff – would keep Unitywater competitive and help keep its services affordable.

“This change does not mean the staff will work any more hours,” he said.

Unitywater customers in Moreton Bay, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast were hit with 5 per cent price increases this year, including a 13 per cent increase in the State Government’s bulk water charges.

For an average household using 166 kilolitres of water a year, Sunshine Coast residents were hit with a $69 hike, which brought their bills to $1337, while Moreton Bay residents were slugged $1689, up $83.

Who owns Unitywater??? The truth

08 - 07 - 2014
 https://www.moretonbay.qld.gov.au/uploadedFiles/common/councillors/Houghton-Newsletter.pdf

QUESTIONS & RESPONSES:

The following comments can be attributed to a spokesperson for Energy & Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle.

(Q1) Does the minister have any comment on a protest outside the Caboolture Unitywater office on Friday afternoon? (The protesters were calling for lower water prices and a representative of the ratepayers to be put on Unitywater's board)

Unitywater is a company wholly owned by the Moreton Bay Regional Council, the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and Noosa Shire Council. Membership on the Unitywater board is a matter for Unitywater's Council owners.

Cheers Bindi

Kind regards

Belinda Ferguson

Office of Lisa France MP

Member for Pumicestone

Assistant Minister for Finance, Administration and Regulatory Reform

 

UNITYWATER FAILS AGAIN!!!

Tenants at a high set property situated in Anzac Avenue, Redcliffe have contacted Unitywater on several occasions to address a major issue they are having with their water supply.

The tenants state their water supply is erratic, with it cutting out many times each day for up to 40 minutes.  This has been an ongoing issue since July, since Unitywater replaced their water meter.  An example was provided where on Tuesday 15th July the following times were recorded:

Off                         On

8.30am                  8.45

8.55                       9.00

9.02                       9.05

9.30                       9.36

9.45                       9.47

10.00                     10.01

10.18                     10.20

10.40                     10.43

11.50                     12.30pm

12.38                     1.00

1.10                       1.15

1.20                       1.25

3.10                       3.15

6.15                       6.17

6.35                       6.40

6.50                       7.00

7.55                       8.00

8.15                       8.25

9.05                       9.10

11.15pm                 11.20

Unitywater initially organised for a replacement meter, and subsequently the plumber who replaced the water meter stated the loss of pressure was due to galvinised pipes.  This has been proven false as upon further inspection the pipes are copper. 

Furthermore, Unitywater has been charging for 100% service, but as can be seen by this above example, it would difficult for these people to plan their basic hygiene and cooking needs based around this erratic timetable, leading us to believe that the service has not been appropriately provided as expected of a professional specialist company. Unitywater should reimburse paid dues and investigate and fix the problem immediately.

Dennis Austen, President of the Ratepayers Action Group Moreton Bay, has stated that he approached the CEO of Unitywater before releasing this to the press in an effort to try and sort the problem, but no reply was received.  Furthermore, owing to their lack of response, this matter will be going before the courts.  The Ratepayers Action Group would be interested to hear from any other ratepayers in the Moreton Bay region that are having similar problems with their water supply.  Please contact via new email

LIES, LIES AND MORE LIES

LIES, LIES AND MORE LIES

 Our Councillors are all pleading [both in their ratepayer funded newsletters and in media statements] that they don’t “own” UnityWater so therefore they can’t order UnityWater to do anything.

Sections 49 and 49A of the Act are absolutely clear; Council can tell UnityWater exactly what to do and how to do it. You can do it by agreement with Sunshine Coast Council or you can do it alone. The case is closed, it’s in black and white. I have even attached a copy in case you haven’t actually read it previously.

SO, to be absolutely 100% clear… you and the other councils control all of the Participation Rights [commonly called shares], you take all of UnityWater’s profits, you appoint[and can sack] the Directors and you can force them to do exactly what you want. But of course you don’t “own” UnityWater. We all understand that!

The only remaining questions are:

  • Why do OUR councillors and Mr Soorley persist in telling us lies?
  • Why do OUR councillors persist with a board of five directors that nobody elected, who nobody has ever met and nobody wants? 
  • Ken Park - Secretary RECLAIM CABOOLTURE SHIRE INC

Bribie Island Water Forum

The Water Forum meeting at the Bribie Island RSL on March 14th.was attended by over 500 angry residents .The officials at the meeting included the Minister for water / the Mayor / the chairman & CEO of Unitywater / Local MP / approx.9 councillors / approx. 6 Unitywater staff / the minister's staff / & 3 members of police .

This meeting was not advertised in any of the local newspapers & Three media persons attended. One has to ask why there was no advert in the newspapers & answer is.. they tried to keep the meeting as a quite affair. If there had been an advert & the meeting held at reasonable time . the attendance could have doubled. 80% of the attendees were from outside Bribie.

The minister/ the mayor / & Unitywater chairman had a tough time controlling the meeting.

The result of the was the minister stated that Unitywater will not be returned to the council & he is forming a committee to try to lower Unitywater costs, good luck on this matter.

The LNP will have a tough time at the next election in Moreton Bay Region. They promised to areas a chance to de-amalgamate & give Unitywater back to the council. They have gone back on their promises. 

The minister has promised next Water Forum to be in The Hills area.

At the Bribie meeting a number people told the RAG president that they were starting their own protest by refusing to pay the odd cents on each bill they received.

RAG is now calling for candidates for the next council elections in March 2016.

CM QLD News and Photos

Unitywater bosses in cash splash

  • by: Matthew Killoran, Sarah Vogler
  • From: The Courier-Mail
  • September 25, 2014 12:00AM 
    •  Former Brisbane Mayor and Unitywater chair Jim Soorley.

Former Brisbane Mayor and Unitywater chair Jim Soorley. Source: News Limited

SIX Unitywater bosses were awarded $280,000 in performance bonuses, while ratepayers were slugged with skyrocketing water bills.

The water retailer's CEO George Theo, whose salary now tops $368,000, was one of the bureaucrats who cashed in on the bonuses revealed in Unitywater's annual report, which was tabled in Parliament last night.

Moreton Bay Mayor Allan Sutherland said the high bonuses were "extremely disappointing", but Unitywater chair Jim Soorley said they were justified and rejected any comparison of bonuses to water prices.

Mr Theo, as well as five other top executives, took home a combined $280,581 in extra cash on top of their salary - which averages out at more than $46,600 each.

It was up $60,000 on the total bonuses paid out last year, which is an almost 30 per cent increase.

Little explanation is given for the basis of the cash splash, other than "achievements of corporate, divisional and individual targets".

It comes in the same year that Unitywater customers, residents of Moreton Bay, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast, were slugged with 5 per cent water price increases, well in excess of CPI.

Based on an average home using 166 kilolitres of water a year, Sunshine Coast residents were hit with a $69 hike, which brought their bill up to $1337, while Moreton Bay residents were slugged $1689, which is up $83.

Unitywater put its consumption charge and fixed charges up 3.5 per cent, while the State Government's bulk water charges increased up to 13 per cent. Cr Sutherland said the bonus payouts sent the wrong signal.

"I'm extremely disappointed that when we're trying to keep prices low, highly paid executives are getting so-called bonuses," he said.

Mr Soorley said executives worked hard to keep costs and prices down. "The Unitywater team has done an extremely good job," he said.

LETTER TO Minister for energy and water & REPLY

FORUM FOLLOW UP!

To Mr Mark McArdle, Minister for energy and water.
 
Dear Mark,     Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Keith Hayman, a self funded retiree aged 78.   My wife and I have lived at Sandstone Point for about 18 years, since we moved here from Geebung when we retired. I have lived in Queensland all my life and have voted Liberal since I was eligible at age 21. I have no intention of voting any other way in the foreseeable future.
Prior to retirement I was an executive with Metway Bank Ltd. I have been a JP for over 50 years. You may remember that I spoke briefly to you at Parliament House a few months ago where I mentioned that your late father, Eddie and I were train travelling mates.
 
I came away from the forum very disappointed  for several reasons. Some of these are:-
 
# You stated quite early in the session that “we will not be dismantling Unity Water.”   I can only assume that this is another one of  Premier Newman’s edicts.
 
# The body language  and dress of Mr Soorley  clearly demonstrated that he was not really interested in listening and/or even being there.. I was confused by his slide which indicated that Unity Water did not show any profit.  However, elsewhere we were led to believe that it paid tax. How can this be?
 
# The instruction that  any speakers were only permitted to ask questions. I read this as a ploy to minimise the number of speakers by having the panel give lengthy pre prepared answers ,in some cases, supported by pre prepared slides.
 
# Having in mind that the people of Queensland elected the LNP with a very strong majority mainly to fix the problems created by the previous Government, it is very disappointing that you have not made moves to correct the problems, particularly those concerning water supply and the creation of monster Regional Councils such as Moreton Bay R. C.
In my opinion we, the people, no longer have “Local” government. For example, the spending of millions of MBRC rate payers’ money for the Redcliffe rail which has absolutely no benefit for the people of the former Caboolture Shire. To my knowledge, this has not occurred in Queensland previously except perhaps for the Aramac Tramway many years ago.
 
# The costings done by Ernst and Young , as reported at the meeting, seem to me to be so vague that they are of little value. I have no doubt that they were based on figures obtained from
sources where the persons involved were mainly  interested in protecting their salaries and over-generous working conditions. Surely the State Government would waive stamp duty in such a circumstance.
 
# The decision to form a “working group” reminds me of my experience of the working of large private organisations, where if any group was stumped for an answer and wanted to avoid the issue they would form a sub-committee, which traditionally went nowhere.
 
# When Caboolture Shire Council was our water provider, we did not experience any outages or dirty water and we didn’t hear of anyone being ill from drinking Woorim water.
   The only time we heard of sewerage problems was when a large block of units was under construction in Welsby Pde, Bongaree.
 
# I was amazed to read in today’s Sunday Mail that the State Government is to provide $12million for a dog track.  I see this as a “pork barrelling “ exercise in a labor voting area.
Surely it would have been better to have used this money in a more productive manner. eg. paying some debt.
 
RECOMMENDATIONS / SUGGESTIONS
 
# I fully realise that there is a huge water debt which needs to be serviced and repaid. However, is it fair to do this by taxing water? Perhaps if Unity Water was abolished the savings could be used to help pay interest and principal.
 
# At present there is little incentive for users to save water as the fixed charges form the bulk of the bills.
 
#  May I suggest that notice be taken of the comments made by the speakers at the forum –particularly  Michael Wilkinson.  To me he made a lot of sense, and is obviously experienced in these matters.
 
 
Kind regards,  Keith Hayman. Phone  5497 6646
 
cc Lisa France  

MINISTER'S REPLY TO KEITH HAYMAN

Dear Mr Hayman 

Re: Water forum Bribie Island 

Thank you for your email of 16 March 2014 about your concerns following the Water forum on Bribie Island.  

The Premier and I recognise unsustainable increases in the cost of water over many years in the southeast have caused significant cost-of-living stress to Queenslanders, especially pensioners. That is why the Newman Government is working so hard to put downward pressure on water prices. And, on this measure, Seqwater bulk water charges are now significantly lower than would have otherwise been under the previous governments’ bulk water price path.  

As you know, because of the unique role councils play as the owner of local water utility companies, responsibility for your household water and sewerage bill is spread over three areas: 1. Moreton Bay Regional Council; 2. Unitywater; and 3. Seqwater.  

I was sorry to read that you were disappointed with the forum for a number of reasons, including MBRC’s decision that it would not be dismantling Unitywater. In considering questions about whether Caboolture Shire Council provided more efficient and affordable water and sewerage services than Unitywater, it is impossible to ignore the Beattie-Bligh governments’ forced-council amalgamations, combined with its unilateral, high-cost, reforms to the water sector, irreversibly changed the urban water supply model in south east Queensland (SEQ). In this regard, consistent with our election commitment, the Government gave SEQ councils the opportunity to take back control of water distribution and retailing services. The council owners of Unitywater indicated they would retain the current arrangements. The Government respects this decision.  

In order to provide SEQ residents and businesses with an objective analysis of SEQ water and sewerage bills, I directed the statutory independent authority, the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), to monitor water and sewerage prices set by SEQ council-owned water businesses, including Unitywater, to ensure prices reflect the efficient costs of providing services. From the QCA Fact Sheet I have attached for your information, you will note Seqwater bulk water charges represent about 28 per cent of a typical Unitywater household water and sewerage bill in the old Caboolture local government area in 2013-14. For your further information, the ‘SEQ Price Monitoring for 2013-15 Part B – Unitywater’ (Final Report) was published on 31 March 2014 and is available on the QCA’s website at:

http://www.qca.org.au/getattachment/fcd40f28-0919-4916-bc1a-ea7c7736b647/SEQ-Price-Monitoring-Final-Report-Part-B-Unitywate.aspx 

Unfortunately, one of the previous governments’ most painful and enduring legacies for all SEQ households and businesses are the increasingly high bulk water prices that it deliberately passed onto future residents through the10-year SEQ Bulk Water Price Paths. Despite our Government’s ongoing efforts to reduce bulk water costs, the previous government’s decision to waste $715 million on the non-existent Traveston Dam, as well as to debt-fund other un-necessary bulk water infrastructure means SEQ residents and businesses pay significantly more for water. Indeed, while most people living in Sandstone Point may never see one drop of water from the $1.2 billion Tugun Desalination Plant and the $2.6 billion Western Corridor Recycling Scheme they will help pay $156.7 million/year in finance and borrowing costs because the previous government signed all SEQ water users onto this long-term debt-finance contract. For example, the Auditor-General (2013:27) found “The payment of these interest charges, and the repayment of debt, is ‘locked in’, regardless of the level of production, including the scenario of decommissioning the assets.” Put simply, the Beattie-Bligh governments’ decisions to waste so much money on a non-existent dam, as well as to debt-fund other un-necessary bulk water infrastructure, mean we all pay more now. 

Consistent with the National Water Initiative (NWI), bulk water prices should reflect the costs of the bulk water supply system. However, because this Government recognise many people simply cannot afford to pay the full cost of the previous governments’ planning failures and its reckless spending, SEQ bulk water prices do not meet the full costs of operating the supply system. Indeed, today the bulk water supply system is carrying $10.3 billion debt that must be repaid – with about half of Seqwater’s operating expenses going toward interest costs to service debt. It is also worth noting that while Seqwater is selling bulk water to Unitywater at a loss (funded by debt), Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) and the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) continue to make profits from their water company (Unitywater). 

Consistent with its election commitment, the Newman Government last year delivered a one off $80 water rebate for SEQ households and still maintains a pensioner subsidy on water and sewerage bills of up to $120 per year. The Government has also taken action to put downward pressure on the cost of supplying bulk water, like for example, amalgamating the SEQ bulk water entities into one single bulk water entity (Seqwater) and abolishing the Queensland Water Commission. The Government has also ‘mothballed’ unnecessary bulk water assets that were too expensive to keep running. Combined, these actions have helped reduce the proposed bulk water price increase from $83/year to about $49 this year for an average household using 200 kilolitres. Without this action, bulk water prices would have increased significantly more under the previous governments’ price path. 

Again, I would like to thank you for raising your concerns with me and I hope the information I have provided has been useful. 

Yours sincerely 

The Honourable Mark McArdle MP

Queensland Minister for Energy and Water Supply

Phone: 07 3719 7140 | Fax: 07 3220 6233

Mineral House | 41 George Street | Brisbane | QLD 4000

PO Box 15456 | City East | Brisbane | QLD 4002