PERROTTET HAD SYDNEY WATER PRIVATISATION PLANS ALL ALONG –
WEDNESDAY, 15 MARCH 2023
REVEALED: PERROTTET HAD SYDNEY WATER PRIVATISATION PLANS ALL ALONG
Documents from the Perrottet Government – marked as “Sensitive” and “Highly Confidential” – reveal plans for ‘full or partial privatisation’ of Sydney Water to “shape the long-term structure of water services in Australia.”
The documents explore ways to privatise key functions of Sydney Water in direct response to political pressure from Liberal Ministers seeking revenues from asset recycling.
Dominic Perrottet was Treasurer when these documents were produced. Now as Premier, the documents reveal he has already begun the creeping privatisation of Sydney Water through a new facility in Kemps Creek.
Sydney Water Selloff
Dominic Perrottet was exploring how to privatise Sydney Water while publicly claiming he had no plans to do so.
The cache of confidential documents, which Perrottet’s Government tried to hide from the public, reveal that:
Sydney Water provided advice on the ‘partial or full sale of Sydney Water shareholding’, in a document from February 2021, in response to Perrottet’s ‘publicly stated preference for asset recycling’.
Liberal Treasurer Perrottet told Parliament in March 2020 there were no plans for Sydney Water: “I have no plans of doing a scoping study into Sydney Water.”
Yet the Government documents reveal options for Sydney Water privatisation were presented as early as 6 January 2020. Consultants KPMG were advising on ‘long term ownership models’ and ‘major structural changes’ to ‘shape the long-term structure of water services in Australia.’
- The confidential ‘Future Funding Strategy’ for Sydney Water from Feb 2021 cites direct pressure from the Liberal Government: ‘Shareholders [Government Ministers including Perrottet] have large future cash requirements and have been seeking cash inflows through asset recycling and increased dividends.’
Kemps Creek Facility – Pathway to PrivatisationSouth Creek Water Factory at Kemps Creek is a $1.5bn project which will provide water recycling facilities for over 1.5 million people across Western Sydney, treating 70 megalitres of wastewater each day.
Under Dominic Perrottet, the operation of the facility has already been outsourced to a private company, and the necessary plans have already been made to privatise the ownership of the entire facility:
On 12th October 2022, Sydney Water awarded the contract to construct and operate the facility to a private consortium. This came on the same day that the Perrottet Government voted against the motion that “The House opposes the further privatisation of NSW Government assets”.
The documents reveal that plans have already been developed to privatise the ownership of the site via a Public Private Partnership (PPP). A November 2021 Board Paper from Sydney Water confirms the preferred structure: ‘Sydney Water will hold 51%….Private Investor will hold 49%.’
- Plans have also been developed to eventually sell off any remaining public stake in the facility – with comparisons made to the sale of Ausgrid. March 2021 tax advice from Clayton Utz presented 5 different privatisation options. This included ‘exit considerations…if Sydney Water were to exit the structure through the disposal of the remaining 51%.’
These are well-developed plans for privatisation of a major Sydney Water asset. They show that despite Perrottet’s claim that there are no plans, plans are ready to be put into action at a moment’s notice.
The cache of documents was obtained through a parliamentary motion under Standing Order 52. The Government attempted to use parliamentary privilege to prevent the release of the documents.
Quotes attributable to Daniel Mookhey, NSW Shadow Treasurer:
“This blows wide open Dominic Perrottet’s election claim that he has no plans to privatise Sydney Water.
“If he really had no plans to sell off Sydney Water, he wouldn’t have an oven-ready privatisation plan sitting in his top drawer.
“Only a Labor Government can stop Perrottet’s privatisation in its tracks.”
Quotes attributable to Rose Jackson, NSW Shadow Minister for Water:
“These documents reveal the pathway to privatisation for Sydney Water. And it has already begun, with families in Western Sydney the first to pay the price.
“Millions of people across NSW are struggling with the cost of living. Whether it’s toll roads or energy bills, families have already been hammered by privatisation.
“This election is a choice between more Liberal privatisation and higher prices, or a fresh start with a Labor Government that keeps public assets in public hands.”