A BEIJING water company has bought a stake in Mundaring Water Treatment Plant from a private owner.
Water Minister David Kelly said the deal demonstrated one of the pitfalls of the previous government’s decision to enter into a public private partnership with Helena Water in July 2011 to build and operate the plant.
Beijing Enterprises Water Group International Pty Ltd has acquired a 25 per cent interest in the plant.
“When the previous Liberal National Government privatised the Mundaring Water Treatment Plant they claimed to have carefully selected the right private partners with the necessary expertise and long-term commitment,” he said.
“Yet now, just four years into a 35-year contract, one of the major owners is selling out.”
Mr Kelly said important water infrastructure should remain in public hands.
“When you privatise these assets the deal you sign up for is often not the deal you get,” he said.
The $300 million Mundaring plant treats water prior to it being pumped up the Goldfields Pipeline to 100,000 people in the Perth Hills, Kalgoorlie and the agricultural region.
Beijing Enterprises bought out TRILITY Australia Investments Pty Ltd’s 25.05 per cent share in Helena Water in a deal announced this week and approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Helena Water is also part-owned by Spain’s ACCIONA Agua and Aberdeen Asset Management of the UK.