CQWRAP Water Reform Pathway

CQWRAP Water Reform Pathway
Date: 07-Sep-2023

At the qldwater Annual Forum held in Toowoomba from 5-7 September 2023, Scott Mason, Coordinator for the Central Queensland QWRAP region, provided a vision for water reform through the CQ Regional Organisation of Councils.

The Central Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (CQROC) represents the local government areas of Banana, Central Highlands, Gladstone, Livingstone, Rockhampton and Woorabinda. Since 2014, its work has centered on enhancing the economic growth, social capacity and environmental sustainability of the Central Queensland region.

Water infrastructure across the region include 30 water treatment plants, 90,325 water connections and 80,576 sewer connections servicing 37 urban communities.

Scott provided an overview of key works to ensure water security across the region including the Fitzroy to Gladstone pipeline, the CQ regional water assessment, a review of the Fitzroy Basin Water Plan 2011 and the Great Artesian Basin Advisory Council.

The next step, according to Scott, is water reform - and they plan to "fly the plane while building it".

At the LGAQ Annual Conference in October 2023, Central Highlands Regional Council will propose a motion to encourage the Queensland State Government to review the delivery model and consider the establishment of utility portfolios separate to local government to undertake consultative reform.

The proposed pathway for CQ Local Governments to consider water reform is as follows:

1.  Detailed water business risk assessment

2. Public benefit assessment and public engagement process

3. Creating the foundations of a corporatised water business

4. Formal Council decisions

5. Reformed entity created by 30 June 2025.

Corporatisation involves the establishment of a separate legal entity to operate a commercial business with the relevant government (in this instance local government) as its sole shareholder owner. 

Tax Equivalents Regimes (TER) established under the Government Business Enterprises Act 1995 is also extended to apply to corporatised local government business activities.

The five key principles underpinning the Corporatisation Model are:

1. clear and non-conflicting commercial objectives;

2. management responsibility, authority and autonomy;

3. effective performance monitoring by the owner; (generally through an agreed Statement of Corporate Intent with Board\Management of Corporation which describes performance standards and financial and dividend arrangements)

4. rewards and sanctions related to performance; and

5. competitive neutrality.

While there is still a long way to go, it is great to see the first QWRAP region aiming to reach the highest level of maturity.

Download Scott's presentation here.

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