The local government union has warned the Central Coast community that Council’s review into local water and sewerage operations could open the door to the sell-off of these vital community services by the cash-strapped council.
The United Services Union has also foreshadowed a relentless campaign to protect the jobs and services of this current Council operation to prevent any moves to privatise it.
Central Coast Council has announced an independent review into how water and sewer operations are managed, which will examine options including the full privatisation of the services, a transition to a council-owned corporation, and a joint service with Hunter Water.
The USU said the publicly-owned water and sewer infrastructure — which the council says is worth nearly $4 billion dollars — not only provides an essential community service, but also generates ongoing income for the council.
“The privatisation of water and server services would be catastrophic for the Central Coast community,” USU organiser Luke Hutchinson said.
“We are strongly opposed to any sell-off and will be engaging in a wide ranging and relentless campaign to protect local jobs and essential services for the Central Coast community.
“These services not only provide a reliable, affordable, essential service, they generate ongoing income, making their retention in public hands vital to turning around the financial crisis that saw Central Coast Council placed into administration. Privatisation simply does not make any sense.
“A sale of these assets — which have been entirely paid for by the local community — would see them run for the profit of their new owners, rather than in the best interest of the Central Coast community.
“The Central Coast is already struggling with the effects of the COVID pandemic and ongoing lockdowns, the last thing they need is for their water and sewerage assets to be sold off to private interests.
“If water and sewerage assets are sold off, it will lead to higher water bills, lower service, and the loss of good local jobs.
“The threat of privatisation is also causing extreme hardship for Central Coast Council workers who have already faced 10 months of uncertainty due to the current financial crisis, including the loss of 287 jobs.
“The Central Coast community needs to send a clear message to the Council and the Administrator that the sell-off of local essential services is not an acceptable way to address Council’s financial mess.
“The USU has a very strong and proud record of protecting jobs and community assets and is committed to leading vigorous and continuous opposition to any moves to sell these community assets.”
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