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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4537

Mr Enderby asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

(1)   What principles and tests are applied to determine how water rates are charged in the Australian Capital Territory.

(2)   Does the system require flat dwellers without gardens to pay a minimum sum of $20 for water used up to 100,000 gallons which is the same as that required of householders with gardens.

(3)   What percentage of (a) householders and (b) flat dwellers used (i) less than 20,000 gallons, (ii) less than 40,000 gallons, (iii) less than 60,000 gallons, (iv) less than 80,000 gallons, (v) less than 100,000 gallons and (vi) more than 100,000 gallons in the last year.

(4)   Are householders permitted the free use of 25,000 gallons per annum for the purpose of watering nature strips irrespective of the size of those nature strips.

(5)   Do householders occupying corner blocks of land often have twice the area of nature strips surrounding their house than other householders.

(6)   Will he change the present system of imposing water rates to give greater equity to householders occupying corner blocks and to flat dwellers; if not, why not.

Mr Hunt - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: (1), (2) and (4) The principle underlying the system of water charging in the Australian Capital Territory is that all consumers should contribute to the cost incurred in providing for the storage of sufficient water to meet all consumers need: and in treating and reticulating it to their properties. The minimum charge (currently $20 per annum) therefore represents a contribution b} each consumer towards the capital, maintenance and operating costs of the system. In setting the minimum charge of $20 for 100,000 gallons of water the contribution of consumers to the development of Canberra as a garden city continued to be recognised. Instead of setting 75,000 gallons as the quantity allowable before excess was charged, 25,000 gallons was added to encourage consumers to continue to maintain na'.ure strips. Flat dwellers pay only the minimum charge irrespective of the amount of water consumed.

(3)   Consumption statistics are not available in the form requested by the honourable member. However, consumption by all consumers in 1968, the latest year for which these figures are available, was:

Based on current charges the 35 per cent of consumers who used less than 75,000 gallons would have contributed 19 per cent of the water revenue. The 50 per cent who used more than 100,000 gallons would have contributed 72 per cent.

(5)   Even ignoring comparisons between corner blocks and others, there are wide variations in 'he sizes of nature strips adjacent to houses.

(6)   The distribution of water charges between consumers is considered to be equitable and no changes are proposed at present.

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