News State NSW News Sydney Water profits raise questions: ALP

Sydney Water profits raise questions: ALP

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Sydney Water has defended its performance after its annual report showed its profit rising in the face of growing complaints and household bills.

The NSW opposition says the utility’s $415 million profit in 2012/13 comes at the expense of households that were promised cost of living relief under the O’Farrell government.

The annual report shows the profit came after higher water sales and service charges.

It also shows an 11 per cent increase in complaints over the past two years, mostly concerning billing and meter reading.

Over the past three years, 459 Sydney Water staff lost their jobs, according to opposition water spokesman Walt Secord.

Only one of them was in corporate services, with senior jobs increasing from 267 to 290 in the past year, he pointed out.

Mr Secord argued the government should direct the profit to families struggling to pay their bills, “instead of raking in massive profits by increasing prices and slashing jobs at the expense of service”.

In a statement, Sydney Water managing director Kevin Young said the job cuts came with growing reliance on outsourcing to drive down costs.

“More than 80 per cent of Sydney Water’s total operating and capital costs are sourced externally, which drives efficiencies through competitive tendering and sourcing,” he said.

“Around 98 per cent of capital works is outsourced to the private sector.”

Sydney Water, as a state-owned corporation, is required to operate as an efficient business, he said.

Its prices were independently set by IPART, Mr Young said, adding customer satisfaction with “overall quality of service” was at its highest in five years.