Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today the former CEO of ESCOSA Dr. Paul Kerin had slammed the behaviour and actions of former Treasurers Weatherill and Snelling and former Minister Caica in deliberately causing high water prices in SA.
“In evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee Dr.Kerin said struggling SA families were being slugged hundreds of millions of dollars more than they should be because of deliberate policy decisions of the Weatherill Government,” said Mr Lucas.
“Dr.Kerin also confirmed his resignation letter reference to being ‘appalled by the behavior’ of Ministers and bureaucrats in trying to stop water pricing reform he was referring to Weatherill, Snelling, Caica and senior Treasury officers.
“Dr.Kerin says the Weatherill Government had deliberately inflated the value of SA Water assets by more than $2 billion and together with other questionable assumptions had forced high water prices to protect revenue flows to the Government’s budget.
“He also said the Weatherill Government’s inquiry into water pricing was an elaborate sham designed to conceal these facts over water pricing policy.
“When asked about how the government had justified a recent decision to inflate the value of SA Water assets by $700 million Dr.Kerin referred to a meeting with former treasurer Weatherill.
“Dr.Kerin said Mr.Weatherill had simply looked at a table of different possible asset values given to him and selected the $700million figure on the basis of protecting budget revenue.
“Mr.Weatherill had no Treasury, SA Water, ESCOSA or independent advice to justify the $700m figure!
“Dr.Kerin also accused senior Treasury officers of ‘bullying and intimidation’ in trying to stop ESCOSA from introducing reforms which would reduce water prices.
“Dr.Kerin described one meeting where he raised the issue of greater competition reducing water prices when a furious Treasury officer slammed his fist on the desk and said ‘There will be no competition’!
“Dr.Kerin also slammed former Minister Caica and Treasurer Snelling for making ‘untrue’ and ‘false’ public statements about water pricing reforms and policy.
“Dr.Kerin has advised the Budget and Finance Committee of many emails,letters and reports which validate the claims he has made in his evidence.
“The Committee has the power to require ESCOSA and Treasury to release those documents to the Committee.
“Given the Government’s public attacks on Dr.Kerin the pressure is now on Premier Weatherill and Treasurer Koutsantonis to respond in detail to these criticisms and in particular that they had no evidence to support their decision to inflate the value of SA Water assets by $700m.”