Labor Appointed SA Water Chair Out of Their Depth

Labor Appointed SA Water Chair Out of Their Depth

Posted on: 03 August 2022

The newly Labor-appointed chair of the SA Water Board has shown they are out of their depth to lead the multibillion-dollar organisation and critical South Australian utility.

Allan Holmes started in the position this week and in a highly unusual move did a media interview on his first day and revealed his clear lack of understanding of how SA Water operates. Importantly he also failed to rule out increasing water bills for South Australians and showed clear reluctance to the opening of the state’s reservoirs for recreational activity.

When asked if he was going to put up water rates Mr Holmes ominously responded: “There’s, what do they say, certainties in life: death and taxes.”

In the same interview when Mr Holmes was questioned about the process for determining water bills he responded:

“I honestly don’t know, I’m not across any of the financials for SA Water at all ... the appointment was Friday, I’ve really had no briefings in relation to the business at all. I’ve read some of the documentation.”

Shadow Treasurer Matt Cowdrey said Mr Holmes’ revelations should be a concern to all South Australians.

“With South Australians facing a cost of living crisis the last thing they want to hear is the possibility of hikes to water bills,” Mr Cowdrey said.

“An independent inquiry into SA Water in 2019 found the former Labor Government deliberately drove up household and business water bills to prop up their budget.

“The now Treasurer had his hands all over that decision as Jay Weatherill’s Deputy Chief of Staff at the time and I am worried history could repeat itself.

“The former Liberal Government undid this and reduced water bills by hundreds of dollars a year for the average household and by more than $1,000 for businesses.

“SA Water is a multi-billion-dollar organisation responsible for some of the state’s largest infrastructure projects and I am worried Allan Holmes’ appointment by Peter Malinauskas has been done without a merit-based selection process.

“It would be hugely concerning for South Australians to hear Mr Holmes’ comments regarding water bills increases, reservoir access and for him to say he knows very little about the organisation he has just been appointed the Chair of.”