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  • Rikki Lambert

Brock attacks Jackson's Coober Pedy record

The local government minister has attacked a proposal from the departing Coober Pedy administrator for SA Water to run the council's water, opening up a broadside on Tim Jackson's performance.

On the first day since he ceased in the role, Mr Jackson told Flow listeners he believed SA Water should take over running the town's water supply:

"We've been asking the government since 2019 on this, I've written to all MLCs asking them do they believe its eq for coober pedy people to pay 3x what Adelaide people pay.
"Since 2019 a small town of 15-1600 people have paid $5m more for their water than they would have if they had lived in Adelaide. I've written to the government about this, they set up a taskfore, they met once in August last year - it aint that difficult.
"My proposition is that we sell the assets worth about $12 mil to SA Water and they would take it over, which would clear the council's debt, which is about $10 million at the moment."

Local government minister Geoff Brock hit back at Mr Jackson's water supply proposal and his handling of council's affairs in general, this written statement provided by the independent MP to Flow:

“This serious and complex of issue has arisen because unlike some other councils, the District Coober Pedy Council delivers both civil services and essential services in the township, including water, wastewater, and electricity retail services.
"The council, when established wanted to keep electricity and water under its control. Unfortunately, since then, the Council did a poor job of maintaining these essential services, as identified by both the Ombudsman and the Auditor-General in the 2018 reports that prompted the Council to be placed into administration in 2019.
"Since coming into Government, I have been disappointed to learn that my Ministerial predecessors neglected the people of Coober Pedy once they appointed Mr Jackson to the role of administrator.
"It is evident that despite Mr Jackson making some improvements in the council’s management, insufficient improvements were made to allow the Council to be responsibly retuned to an elected body.
"Last year State Government agencies, including agencies responsible for electricity and water services were tasked with and are in the process of investigating options for the future delivery and governance of essential services in Coober Pedy.
"However, the Council’s decades of neglect of the water system has meant that this is an expensive proposition for South Australian taxpayers - significant sums of money must be spent to upgrade the system, on top of the $4 - $5 million that is already provided to the township each year to subside power provision.
"The State Government also cannot consider any changes to the provision of water services in the town without fully understanding the impact of these changes on the Council’s provision of municipal services in the town, that disappointingly, continue to rely on revenue received by the Council from the provision of water and power.
"It was also made clear in the Auditor-General’s examination of the Council in 2018, the failure of the Council to manage these three areas of its business separately to ensure the financial sustainability of each was the principal reason that the Council was placed into administration.
"For these reasons, Mr Jackson was consistently advised to fully separate the Council’s municipal services from the water and power services. Clearly, this has not happened.
"Mr Jackson’s insistence of presenting simple solutions for complex problems did not assist either the Council or the State Government to understand what is necessary to resolve the future of any of the services that the Council has chosen to provide to its community.
"I look forward to a more constructive relationship with the interim administrator, Mr Colin Davies."

Minister Brock recently announced the appointment of Mr Davies from Flinders Ranges Council in an interim role while the state government finds a longer-term administrator.

Hear the interview with Tim Jackson on the Flow podcast player below:


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