Dominic Perrottet has been hit by bombshell revelations his government had investigated ways to privatise key functions of Sydney Water.
The NSW Premier has repeatedly said during the campaign for the March 25 election his government has “no plans” for further asset recycling.
“We have no plans in relation to Sydney Water. I’ve made that very clear, every step of the way,” he told reporters in February
But leaked confidential documents seen by NCA NewsWire reveal consultants KPMG and Clayton Utz had looked into privatisation options for Sydney Water in January 2020 and November 2021.
In March 2020, Mr Perrottet – then treasurer – said he had no plans of even doing a scoping study into privatising Sydney Water,
The ‘Future Funding Strategy’ KPMG report cites direct pressure from the government.
“Shareholders (government ministers) have large future cash requirements and have been seeking cash inflows through asset recycling and increased dividends,” the document says.
Documents have revealed that private company TRILITY will run the Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre for up to 10 years.
The KPMG report advised on ‘long term ownership models’ and ‘major structural changes’ to “shape the long-term structure of water services in Australia”.
Last October, the government contracted a private consortium to construct and operate the new Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre at Kemps Creek.
The contract for the consortium, led by Chinese-owned company TRILITY, was announced in a press release last October.
A report to Sydney Water board reveal that plans had been developed to privatise the overall ownership of the South Creek site via a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“Preferred structure…Sydney Water will hold 51 per cent….Private Investor will hold 49 per cent,” the board report said.
2GB announcer Chris O’Keefe, who broke the story on Tuesday, slammed the move by the Perrottet government.
“Seriously? So much for ‘We aren’t privatising Sydney Water’, it’s already happening,” he said.
“I know the government will say ‘Oh, no, we still are in the bricks and mortar.’ But that’s like saying, ‘Oh, well, we aren’t selling Sydney Trains. But the drivers are no longer employed by us’.”
“The shareholders have shown a preference for asset recycling,” O’Keefe quoted from the report.
“Well, that means privatisation doesn’t it? A sell-off, asset recycling.”
“We have no plans in relation to Sydney Water. I’ve made that very clear every step of the way,” the NSW Premier told reporters in February. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard
Sydney Water is the largest water utility in Australia, servicing more than five million people across Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra.
It’s combined assets total more than $23 billion.
Modelling released by The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work last month revealed any moves to privatise Sydney Water could increase water bills by 59 per cent, adding up to $264 to the average household bill every year.
The research, which was commissioned by the Australian Services Union (ASU) said the sale of the government-owned body would add between $174 and $269 to water bills; however, this figure would likely increase due to inflation and potential population growth.
Comment is being sought from the Premier.
Read related topics:Dominic PerrottetSydney