The NSW Labor Government has failed to protect regional water assets after passing legislation to enshrine Sydney Water Corporation in the NSW Constitution.
The government rejected amendments by the opposition to include regional water utilities alongside Sydney Water Corporation and Hunter Water Corporation as assets that cannot be privatised.
NSW Nationals leader and Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders said access to drinking water for people in regional NSW should be the same as for people living in Sydney.
“The Premier’s first legislative act has divided our state based on where we live,” Mr Saunders said.
“Chris Minns had an opportunity to show he will govern for all of NSW, not just for Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong – he has failed.
“People in regional NSW deserve to know that no matter where they live, they will be treated equally by this government – unfortunately that is not the case.”
On Tuesday the Legislative Assembly passed the Constitution Amendment (Sydney Water and Hunter Water) Bill 2023, which does not include regional water assets outside the Hunter.
“The NSW Nationals will bring a new Bill into Parliament as soon as possible to level the playing field and protect our regional water utilities,” Mr Saunders said.
Shadow Minister for Water Steph Cooke said regional water utilities do not have the same protection as metro utilities under this Bill.
“This Bill discriminates against the 1.85 million people who obtain their water from water utilities other than Sydney Water and Hunter Water,” Ms Cooke said.
“By focusing on Greater Sydney, the Lower Hunter, Illawarra and Blue Mountains and failing to acknowledge the rest of the state, this Bill raises serious questions about the future security of WaterNSW and all the local water utilities across regional, rural and remote NSW.
“If Labor was truly serious about protecting end-to-end water supply in New South Wales, it would have supported our proposed amendments and not excluded one third of our State’s population, simply because of the location of their water meter.”