"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Water Fat Cats!

Peter Finch says it for all of us!

The Sunday Mail exposes water industry fat cats getting huge rises ripped off from consumers. No new dams together with horrendously expensive desalination plants  coupled with a fat,bloated bureaucracy signal a bleak future for water users. 

WATER bosses are pocketing $100,000 salary increases as Queenslanders are hit with soaring utility bills.Bosses at the state water bodies have been criticised over their ''excessive'' pay rises while consumers are being gouged every time they turn on a tap.The best rain in a decade has ended the drought and filled the state's dams, but critics say the State Government reforms aimed at securing future water supplies have created a bureaucratic monster  with a financial appetite to match.Now households are paying the price, with water bill increases of up to $300 a year to pay for the army of new water administrators.Four separate State Government agencies, three council-owned retailers and a Government department are now involved in water delivery.Annual reports reveal the vast cost of the agencies, with executive salaries one of the biggest expenses.
'They were supposed to build a water grid, but instead Labor has built its very own millionaire's row by paying these excessive salaries and perks,'' Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said.''Southeast Queenslanders are paying for it through massive increases in their water bills.''SEQ Water Grid Manager chief executive Barry Dennien, who oversees water flows and projects, has been a big winner, with a pay increase of about $120,000 to a whopping $460,000 a year.A Government spokesman said the rise came when Mr Dennien was promoted from ''acting CEO'' to ''CEO''.Seqwater chief executive Peter Borrows, responsible for providing bulk water from dams and weirs, received a rise of about $80,000 - including a performance bonus  to a total of almost $500,000 a year.LinkWater, responsible for the pipe network that transports water, has concealed the salary of chief executive Peter McManamon in consecutive annual reports by using a broad salary range. But a Government spokesman said the package was close to $400,000, a rise of up to $100,000.WaterSecure chief executive Keith Davies, responsible for recycling and desalination, earns a massive $540,000.Mr Davies' generous salary comes despite WaterSecure struggling to find industries to take up expensive recycled water, and ongoing problems with the Gold Coast desalination plant.

Premier Anna Bligh retreated on a plan to add recycled water to the region's drinking supply, and millions of litres are being flushed down the Brisbane River.The Water Commission, set up in the worst days of drought, appointed new chief executive Karen Waldman in May. A Government spokesman said Ms Waldman was on $230,000 a year.The commission, which critics want disbanded now that dams are overflowing, has reduced costs but has an annual $1.1 million executive salaries bill.Taxpayers are also funding hefty pay rises for numerous other executives in the various bodies, and generous remuneration for board members.

The Government's spokesman said: ''Salaries paid to executives are competitive with those paid in similar roles interstate and overseas''.However the Local Government Association blasted the new water grid network for forcing up costs.''The architecture is not ideal and certainly costs a lot of money,'' said executive director Greg Hallam.The bosses of southeast Queensland's three new council-owned water retailers responsible for water billing - Unitywater's Jon Black, Allconnex Water boss Kim Wood and Queensland Urban Utilities chief executive Noel Faulkner - are also on lucrative salaries.Gold Coast-based Allconnex's annual report indicates Mr Wood, who took up his post in January, is paid about $350,000. Other retailers are yet to release their annual reports, but are certain to be on a similar scale and sources say the real figure could be closer to $400,000.Allconnex managers were treating salary details with such secrecy that when The Sunday Mail found their annual report on their website it was immediately pulled down.In a worrying sign about the accountability of the new retailers, all declined to comment on salaries and have refused to provide any details about the number of households struggling to pay bills.
Half a million dollars to manage recycled and desalinated water being flushed into the river could only happen in a Government organisation using OPM other people's money - no private company would tolerate it for one minute.

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