Govt told hands off our water

THERE were as many protesters as participants at yesterday's Local Water Utilities Inquiry, with a group of Coffs Harbour City Council workers making it clear that our water is not for sale.

United Services Union organiser, Narelle Rich, said Coffs Harbour residents could soon be paying more on their quarterly water bills if the State Government sets up local water suppliers for its next sell-off.

"Less than a week after announcing plans to push through the sale of electricity assets to big business, the State Government has flagged council-run water and sewerage services as next on its list," Ms Rich said.

"This plan would devastate Coffs Harbour, costing communities local water and sewerage jobs and millions of dollars in lost revenue."

The Local Water Utilities Inquiry yesterday heard from representatives of local councils across the Mid North Coast, with the general feeling one of keeping local utilities in local hands.

Inquiry head and former NSW Deputy Premier, Ian Armstrong, said the panel has no pre-determined model in mind.

"There won't be a Macquarie St, one-size-fits-all solution," Mr Armstrong said.

"The Inquiry panel will work with councils and stakeholders to identify the most effective governance arrangements for the future."

But USU organiser Ms Rich said any model that embraces privatisation is a 'worst case scenario'.

A report on the inquiry is due to be presented to the State Government in August. 

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