Gold Coast parts from Allconnex

Gold Coast City Council has decided to disconnect from water retail distributor Allconnex Water, in an 8-7 vote by 15 councillors.

The move is the first time a South East Queensland regional council has formally voted to take back control of the retail water business following the State Government’s decision to allow councils the choice to split.

The vote means that from 1 July 2012 onwards, the city could have control of its retail water arm.

Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke said the move was a “victory for all residents” and called it an historic day.

“We would ideally like to regain control of the bulk water component as well - and we have not given up hope of achieving that in the next twelve months,” he said.

Mr Clarke said water prices would spiral under increasingly bulk water charges year-on-year until 2017.

“But regaining control of the retail arm will mean we can do everything in our power to at least minimise that component of water pricing at peoples’ taps,” he said.

Minister for Water Utilities Stephen Robertson said councils were given the choice to split from their water distributor-retailers if they could show they could provide cheaper water.

“I sincerely hope Gold Coast City Council has considered the interests of their local community with their decision,” he said.

“That is, in taking the water business back to council they will be delivering high quality services at affordable prices.”

Gold Coast City Council has until 1 August to provide a price mitigation plan to the State Government and publish the plan by 1 September 2011.

The price mitigation plan must include information about how a council intends to moderate the impact on customers of price increases, assist vulnerable customers, and inform the community about future price increases.

Mr Robertson said Gold Coast City Council should be able to explain how ratepayers will bear the cost of opting out of their distributor-retailer.

Allconnex has not yet commented on the decision.

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