Premier’s misleading mail-out on TasWater

PREMIER Will Hodgman has sent a mail-out to Brighton residents, apparently funded by taxpayers, attempting to sell the State Government’s hostile takeover of TasWater, the council-owned water and sewerage corporation.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said the leaflet, mailed to all Brighton residents in recent weeks, contained the Government’s usual false and misleading claims about TasWater’s performance and reiterated the Liberal’s deceptive promises about future costs.“For example, in the letter, the Premier repeats the claim that the takeover will provide savings for households of $550 over the next six years. We know that at best, this will be $286 in total, or 90 cents a week, but for this, the Government will take away $120 million from essential services, equivalent to $600 per household over the same period.

“The Premier talks about distributions to councils but conveniently ignores the fact that under the current TasWater model, Tasmanian households pay $300 less than the national average for the water and sewerage services.

“TasWater has provided information to respond to the Premier’s claims and this is published in this issue of the Brighton Community News.

Mayor Foster said the Premier also accused Brighton Community News, owned by Brighton Council, of frustrating the Government’s efforts to communicate its message to Brighton residents.

“Like the Government’s claims and promises over TasWater, this is also untrue as in early March this year, we invited all Lyons MPs, Labor and Liberal, to provide their views on the TasWater takeover, for publication as part of a special feature in the April edition of the newspaper,” Cr Foster said.

“The Labor Opposition members responded and their comments were published in April. However, the Government MPs did not provide any response until two months later.

“It is surprising, that with the Government’s highly-paid media unit, it took some two months to provide a response to a series of six simple questions considered important to Brighton ratepayers.

“Nevertheless, the comments were published as part of a story on TasWater in the June issue, but, as is the newspaper’s right and responsibility, some of the more outlandish claims were questioned.

“The fact that the Government finds the tardiness of its PR unit and the questioning of its position ‘frustrating’ does not justify the spending of taxpayers’ funds to send a letter to all Brighton residents, at a likely cost in the vicinity of $5000.

“After already spending thousands of taxpayer dollars promoting and defending its ill-considered TasWater takeover, one can only wonder if the Government is planning to spend even more to send its propaganda to every letterbox in Tasmania.”

Cr Foster said Brighton Community News was a contributed newspaper and it relied on people sending in commentary and stories of relevance to the Brighton community. More often than not, material submitted, provided it was factual and interesting, received a good run.

“It is a bit rich for the Premier to complain when the Government does not provide access for councils and others to its extensive communication platforms and when editors, be they from a daily newspaper or a community publication like Brighton Community News, question the truthfulness and legitimacy of the Government’s material.

“Brighton is strongly opposed to the Government takeover because on top of the extra water and sewerage costs, it will undoubtedly force Council to impose higher rates just to maintain existing services. This is unfair on a community that has already paid for its water and sewerage infrastructure and can ill-afford to pay for this Government folly,” Cr Foster said.