Hunter’s water rebates under review

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Water woes are increasing across NSW’s Hunter region.

The Newcastle Herald 

Hunter pensioners could receive up to $300 a year off their water bills under a statewide review of rebates.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet and water utilities are considering ways of making water and sewerage rebates consistent, with a preliminary report expected to go to cabinet soon.

At present, Hunter Water pensioners are eligible for less than half those of their Sydney counterparts, who pay similar water prices.

If brought into line with Sydney, most Hunter pensioners would get about $300 more a year.

But in rural areas where council suppliers operate, pensioners may miss out. 

A spokeswoman for Finance and Services Minister Greg Pearce would only say the review was looking at the rebates that vary in different jurisdictions of the state.

The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association said a uniform rebate for pensioners and other low-income householders based on Sydney Water’s rebate structure should be introduced across the state to put an end to inequity.

‘‘Water rebates across NSW are inconsistent and treat pensioner and other low-income householders differently depending on where they live and the type of residence they occupy,’’ the association said in its submission to the latest Hunter Water prices review.

The Energy and Water Ombudsman of NSW has also called for a consistent rebate.
 
Labor leader John Robertson said taking a consistent approach should not mean existing rebates are reduced.

“While we would like to see assistance for all pensioners with their water bills from the more than 100 water authorities, a new system should not be at the expense of pensioners in Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains who are on the Hunter Water and Sydney Water rebate system,’’ he said.

 “The last thing we would want to see is a cut to the pensioner rebate for Hunter Water and Sydney Water customers already doing it tough.”

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