No chance State Treasury will waive stamp duty
THE Fraser Coast Regional Council has "no chance" of being granted an exemption from paying $65 million in stamp duty to take back control Wide Bay Water, a Treasury source has confirmed.
Mayor Gerard O'Connell and deputy mayor George Seymour will meet State Treasury officials in Brisbane on Thursday to seek an exemption from the stamp duty required to take control of WBW.
A senior government source told the Chronicle there would be no exemption.
"We've said that to them and they know it ...but they just keep coming back," he said.
"The council should stop peddling false hope.
"The fundamental failure of the consultants that undertook the examination for the council that they forgot about stamp duty is simply gob-smacking.
"There is going to be no deal."
Cr O'Connell said he was looking forward to the meeting.
"We are taking whatever legal, political or viable avenue we've got to bring back the water corporation as a commercial business unit of council," he said.
"I'm hoping there will be a political solution to this."
The government source said it was not the state's responsibility to bail out councils when they got it wrong.
"Why should someone in Rockhampton pay more tax because they've got to give an extra payment to the Fraser Coast Council?" he said.
"If we allow one council to do this, it totally undermines asset transfer duty across the rest of the Queensland Government.
"The government is not going to get involved in some petty personality conflicts between the CEO of council and other people."
The source also said the WBW board was able to make savings without having to be a part of the council.
Cr O'Connell said he hoped local members Ted Sorensen and Anne Maddern would be more helpful to the council.
"I would look for more support, frankly," he said.
"I think they need to understand that this is a council decision."
Member for Maryborough Anne Maddern said the issue needed to be dealt with quickly.
"Tim Nicholls has been pretty clear along - they will not be exempt from stamp duty," she said.