Price rises ‘compliant’

GIPPSLAND Water has moved to end criticism it overcharged water customers, after an independent audit “confirmed” prices were compliant with an approval by the Essential Services Commission.

According to a press release from Gippsland Water this week, managing director David Mawer said the issue surrounding the perceived overcharging “could now be put to rest”, after a Deloitte report found the price rises were compliant with allowed increases in ESC’s approval of the previous Water Plan.

The ESC commissioned the report after a community forum held in December drew a number of barbed questions surrounding the price rises, which made Gippsland residents the highest paying water users in Victoria.

Gippsland Resources Group spokesperson Merv Geddes, an outspoken critic of Gippsland Water’s pricing regime, has long argued increases in water prices have far exceeded the inflationary impact on the ESC’s 71.4 per cent price increase approval over five years.

However in a letter addressed to Mr Geddes, the ESC said Deloitte had found while the 71.4 per cent figure was subject to inflation, a “price formula in the determination required prices to be compounded”.

Despite the report, Mr Geddes said the ESC’s determination was “unconscionable” as it failed to communicate the compounding nature of the price increases to water users.