Desal plant still drains millions through its pipes

5 Sep 2016 2:19 PMJann Stuckey

News that the billion dollar Tugun desalination plant will be activated to supply drinking water outside extreme weather events for the third time since its construction has Currumbin MP Jann Stuckey calling for action.

“Construction of this large water facility has caused untold heartache to residents in Currumbin who have been affected by vibration, dust and noise.

“The plant has been labelled as many things since it was built in 2009 including a white elephant and a rust bucket – it’s had more episodes than Days of Our Lives”, said Ms Stuckey.

“It has also had more operating modes – hot-standby, mothballed, and parked.

“No matter how much spin the minister tries to put on the worth of this ill-fated facility we know it has been a billion dollar lemon with a litany of mistakes and setbacks since day one.

Ms Stuckey says “in 2012 running costs of the plant while in ‘hot-standby’ were quoted as $14million.

“But the figures just keep going up. Now the minister is trying to talk up the benefits of this money sucking infrastructure but the fact remains the average budgeted running costs per annum are $15.2 million.

“Running the plant in hot-standby creates asset risks as the plant was not designed to be put through frequent stop/start cycles.

“What is the Palaszczuk Government doing to explore options to increase utilisation of this plant and give Queenslanders some value for their money,” says Ms Stuckey.

The Queensland Auditor-General’s 2013 report on the poorly thought-out, rushed decision to build the Tugun Desalination Plant was scathing about the Beattie-Bligh Labor Government’s mismanagement of this water asset.

Ms Stuckey said. “Information in this report did not surprise the people of Currumbin who suffered for years during and after the plant’s construction with damage to homes and subsequent anxiety issues.”

“Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh spent recklessly, leaving a legacy of debt for all Queenslanders, a desal plant that is rarely used and crippling household water bills.”

“Now Mr Beattie has been appointed head of the Board of the GC2018 Commonwealth Games overseeing a $2billion project. No wonder people are shaking their heads.”