Labor uses Sunwater to squeeze farmers dry

Sunwater’s annual report shows the utility has enjoyed a massive jump in revenue despite a drought in which Queensland irrigators are battling to stay in business.

As well as increased revenue, the annual report also shows the State Government-owned corporation has approved large CEO and corporate salary increases.

LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last said Annastacia Palaszczuk should stop using farmers as cash cows.

“Water prices are skyrocketing and every cent Sunwater receives comes at the expense of water users who have to count every drop,” Mr Last said.

“Annastacia Palaszczuk is ultimately responsible for a 56 per cent rise in the Sunwater executive team’s pay – an income increase that most farmers can only dream of.”

The annual report shows:

  • Sunwater posted revenue of $335 million from continuing operations in the 2018-19 financial year, an increase of 36 per cent from 2013-14 ($246 million), despite having roughly the same number of customers.
  • Operating expenses have grown rapidly, with the biggest increases including contracted services, which has risen by 158 per cent from $29million in 2013-14 to $75million in the last financial year.
  • In 2018-19 the salary of the Sunwater chief executive officer was $642,000 (including a cash bonus) – up $172,000 on the amount paid five years ago.
  • Sunwater’s executive team have enjoyed a combined pay rise of 56 per cent over the same five years.
  • The board also voted to pay out the full dividend to shareholding ministers – Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham – ploughing irrigators’ cash straight back to the Palaszczuk Labor Government.

Mr Last said the annual report also shows that skyrocketing electricity prices are putting pressure on Sunwater.

“Sunwater’s report shows that its electricity costs have jumped by $5m in five years – an extraordinary admission that Labor’s electricity rip-off is hurting the corporations it runs,” Mr Last said.

“It’s time the Palaszczuk Labor Government pulled Sunwater into line and showed they are fair dinkum about providing affordable water to our farmers and regional communities across Queensland.

“Labor should ensure Sunwater invests in water assets and dams while supporting lower water prices for farmers.”

 2018-19 Sunwater annual report:

2013-14 Sunwater annual report: