Is more pain on the way through water bill increases or are Labor’s land releases a pipedream?

Is more pain on the way through water bill increases or are Labor’s land releases a pipedream?

Posted on: 14 June 2024

South Australian households and businesses are bracing for more cost of living pain from July 1 with SA Water bills likely to be hiked after the Malinauskas Government failed to make an investment in last week’s State Budget to support previously announced land releases.

The final SA Water determination for the next regulatory period 2024-28 is due in the coming days and will reveal how much water bills are set to increase from July 1.

The former Liberal Government saved South Australian households an average of $200 per year on water bills during the last regulatory period, while small businesses received deductions of approximately $1,350.

This is in direct contrast to the former Labor Government, with an independent inquiry finding they deliberately inflated the value of SA Water’s regulated asset base, driving up the cost of water bills for all South Australians.

Last week’s State Budget didn’t include any new funding for supporting infrastructure, raising concerns water bills will be hiked to support the development of land releases announced more than 12 months ago.

Labor’s much-hyped land releases have hardly been the “fast track” to housing as promised, with not a single house built yet and Renewal SA recently dubbing the Dry Creek site “incredibly complex” adding “there are a range of issues associated with it”.

Shadow Treasurer, Matt Cowdrey, said Peter Malinauskas needs to reveal his plans around supporting infrastructure for his land releases as any increase to water bills will add further pain during Labor’s cost of living crisis.

“Peter Malinauskas needs to come clean and tell South Australians how much money is needed for supporting infrastructure for his land releases,” Mr Cowdrey said.

“There was no money in the budget, will he be passing that cost on by jacking up water bills? Or are the land releases just a distant mirage, that South Australians won’t see for years into the future?

“South Australians are doing it tough right now – with the typical family more than $20,000 a year worse off since Peter Malinauskas was elected and many small businesses struggling to keep their doors open.

“The former Liberal Government lowered costs for South Australians, highlighted by reductions in water bills, under Labor the cost of living and doing business has soared.”

Shadow Minister for Housing Affordability and Urban Development, Michelle Lensink, said the absence of new infrastructure funding for the land releases in the budget makes it difficult to see how Labor’s promises will become a reality anytime soon.

“We know additional supply is essential to solving the housing crisis, but it cannot come with unnecessary added costs to struggling families and small businesses,” Ms Lensink said.

“The Opposition expected to see investment in last week’s State Budget for housing infrastructure for the land releases; now we are concerned SA Water will be forced to hike water bills as a consequence.

“Peter Malinauskas has been all headlines and no action when it comes to solving our housing crisis, and announcing land releases with no plan to build houses is the perfect example of this.”