Desalination sell-off bad for taxpayers and water users: Baird must declare how much was paid to consultants

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The O'Farrell Government has sold off the Sydney Desalination Plant – forcing hardworking taxpayers to pay more in water bills whilst delivering almost no money for NSW infrastructure.

"The O'Farrell Government has rushed through the sale of a major public asset for nothing – securing almost no new money to pay for promised infrastructure, but forcing Sydney Water users to pay more," said Shadow Treasurer Michael Daley today.

"Mums and Dads across the state have been dudded by Mike Baird and Barry O'Farrell.

"To add insult to injury, reports today suggest that as much as $300 million has been paid to financial advisors and investment banks as part of the deal - in a huge slap in the face for the people of NSW.

"The O'Farrell Government promised the desalination plant would be leased, not sold, and the proceeds from the sale would deliver over a billion dollars in infrastructure for NSW.

"Instead we have learnt today that the Government sold off the desalination plant for a pathetic $300 million in proceeds – most of which will be paid back to the private operator in secret 'availability charges' over the next 50 years.

"Barry O'Farrell and Mike Baird said the desalination deal would help pay for the North West Rail Link, the M4 East and the M5 Duplication – but $300 million won't even cover the planning costs.

"This deal is a schmozzle that will see Sydney water users forced to pay more for decades to come."

Earlier this year, the NSW Opposition revealed the O'Farrell Government wrote to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal advising that the government intended to pass on Sydney Desalination Plant electricity trading costs to water users.

"This means that risky trading losses incurred by the new private operators can be passed onto consumers through increased water bills," said Shadow Minister for Water, Luke Foley.

"From day one, the O'Farrell Government has acted in the interests of overseas private consortiums bidding for the Sydney Desalination Plant at the expense of the water users of NSW.

"The people have NSW have been short changed – forced to pay for a bad deal for decades."