It’s time to clean up WBW-council debt switch

EDITORIAL: Shuffling debt around doesn't make it go away.

The equivalent of borrowing from one credit card to pay off another doesn't make a lot of sense on a household level.

Doing something similar with tens of millions of dollars, then effectively charging yourself interest on the deal, may make sense to accountants but it leaves the rest of us scratching our heads.

But then so do many of the Fraser Coast Regional Council's actions over Wide Bay Water Corporation.

The Queensland Treasury has found the council has weakened its own water and sewerage provider, not by its botched attempt to take control of it last year, but by transferring a $73 million debt to WBW and hitting it up with 8.6%pa interest.

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli's language over the Treasury audit is restrained, but the message is clear: Sort out this mess before you resume the bid to take over WBW - a process which can begin again in February 2016.

Thanks to a technicality, the council can do it then without the threat of a $65 million stamp duty bill.

Meanwhile, there's a call for a study to set up realistic prices for WBW services.

Stand by for hip pocket pain.



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