Water and sewerage reforms for Tassie

The regional companies are the South, North and North-West corporations. The reforms also involve the creation of a fourth common services corporation to provide for each of the three regional councils.

The reform of the water and sewerage sector in Tasmania is now in full swing. With the legislation passed to establish the new regional entities and the regulatory regime, attention has turned to putting in place the necessary instruments and arrangements to commence operations.

The Common Chair of the regional corporations has been selected and processes are underway to select the common and Regional Directors for the corporations. Geoff Willis is the inaugural Chair and brings with him a wealth of experience from running commercial infrastructure businesses. He also has a successful history in change management in a number of past and present roles. The search for Chief Executive Officers for the corporations is also underway with short listing commenced and selection processes expected to be completed by November 2008.

The constitutions for the new corporations have been endorsed by councils and are required to be approved by both Houses of Parliament. At the time of writing, the constitutions had passed through the Legislative Council and will shortly be considered by the House of Assembly.

Once approved by the Parliament, the new corporations can be formally incorporated under Commonwealth Corporations Law and key appointments, such as the Chair, the Company Directors and Chief Executive Officers can be quickly finalised. Councils will be invited to become members of the new organisations, shareholders’ letters of expectation will be issued and the corporations can commence the work necessary to have the businesses in place and operational by 1 July 2009.

The due diligence process is now underway and represents perhaps the most significant platform of the reform process. The gathering and verification of data will flag a vast array of matters that will be required to be dealt with during the transition as well as a range of issues that will need to be addressed by the new corporations. The data verification process will effectively determine the equity arrangements for the council owners and will quantify the priority dividends payable to councils (based on present returns) by the corporations. Details of staffing and functional transfers, together with asset, financial and contractual arrangements will all be addressed through this process.

The President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania and Chair of the Steering Committee overseeing implementation of the reform, Mayor Mike Gaffney, sees significant opportunity for Trenchless Technology under the new arrangements.

“The asset maintenance operations of the three new entities will be of such a scale as to allow for a greater focus on alternative technologies and innovative practices. The restrictions associated with small council budgets will be lifted and the aggregated spend will promote efficiencies and new approaches to old and existing problems with infrastructure,” he said.

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