The decision by the State Treasury to leave the council facing a possible $65 million Wide Bay Water bill sticks in Mayor Gerard O'Connell's craw.
The decision by the State Treasury to leave the council facing a possible $65 million Wide Bay Water bill sticks in Mayor Gerard O'Connell's craw. Valerie Horton

Email glitch key to $65 million Wide Bay Water bungle

PART of a message which "dropped off" a government email is key to the Fraser Coast Regional Council's claims that it would never have had to pay $65 million stamp duty bill to dissolve Wide Bay Water.

According to government documents obtained by the Chronicle, an omitted section of an email from the Department of Local Government to FCRC chief executive officer Lisa Desmond purportedly expressed the department's intention to exempt the council from the stamp duty.

In response to a question from Ms Desmond, the department's policy, legal and corporate support director Bronwyn Blagoev wrote on January 15: "...the exemption from state taxes was in last night's version, but I can see now it has been dropped off. It is our intention to include this and I will ask for its reinsertion".

Although this exchange was more than two months after the council voted to disband WBW on November 7, Mayor Gerard O'Connell said the emails validated the council's claims that the department backed its plan to take back control of water services.

Cr O'Connell was still smarting on Monday from the last-minute decision by the State Treasury in February which left the council facing a possible bill of $65 million.

"It sticks in my craw," he said.

Right to (slow) Information

  • March 1 - the Chronicle applies to see all emails in relation to Wide Bay Water
  • March 15 - department acknowledges the application
  • March 28 - department advises the application will take 25 business days
  • May 22 - department asks for an extension until June 19 to provide the emails


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