Subsidy for septic back on: Labor

"The decision to scrap the septic pump-out subsidy for Blue Mountains families is unfair and causing financial heartache for these households," said John Robertson, who has announced he will scrap the scheme if the Labor candidate Trish Doyle is elected.

"The decision to scrap the septic pump-out subsidy for Blue Mountains families is unfair and causing financial heartache for these households," said John Robertson, who has announced he will scrap the scheme if the Labor candidate Trish Doyle is elected.

A State Labor government will reinstate the Blue Mountains septic pump-out subsidy - which was dumped recently by the Liberals, leaving 72 Blue Mountains households from Warrimoo to Blackheath in financial turmoil over their sewerage service.

Labor leader John Robertson made the announcement last week at the Linden home of Donna Gammidge, a 39-year-old single mother of two studying environmental health, who is affected by the policy change.

Labor candidate for the Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, said "Labor will reinstate this subsidy so these local families can afford this essential service and remain in our community."

The subsidy -which ended on July 1 - has existed since the early 1990s to cover properties close to the national park that could not be connected to the main sewerage system.

Residents say the government broke a 25-year-old promise to connect them to an essential service.

They were told their septic tanks would eventually be replaced and they would be offered a subsidy until they were connected to the sewer. These homeowners' bills will jump from $600 a year to an average of $4900 - a more than 700 per cent increase.

For families gathering in the Linden backyard, a stone's throw from the Great Western Highway, the promise was welcome relief.

Some like Ms Gammidge, say without the subsidy they will need to sell their homes. Most are already using extreme water conservation measures to avoid expensive pump-out fees.

"We bought on a premise we would be connected and the government has not honoured that," said David Lynch, from Lawson View Parade at Wentworth Falls, who is 70 metres from a sewer connection.

"I wonder how [Blue Mountains MP] Roza [Sage] will feel if I come to use her toilet.

"There is no way I can afford it at home."

Mr Robertson said the decision to dump the scheme was "another example of the Liberals being completely out of touch with families in the Blue Mountains".

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"These people were given guarantees," Mr Robertson said.

"If Labor is elected that certainty will be reinstated. It's a credit to Trish, she's been lobbying hard about the impact to residents and the local environment ... and stands in stark contrast to a local member who's acknowledged on a number of issues she's got no influence. Many of these residents spoke with Roza Sage and effectively got no outcome at all."

Shadow Minister for Water Peter Primrose said the scheme should continue until a permanent solution could be put in place.

"The Liberals' penny-pinching has simply been unnecessary. Sydney Water made a massive after tax profit in 2013 of $415 million. The government can easily continue to fund this scheme from its existing budget resources."

"It's a huge slap in the face for families who are already out of pocket for a service that most of us take for granted".

Ms Doyle said the "local Liberal MP has been missing in action in defending local families from Mike Baird's harsh economies".

Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage who is on record as saying she was "bitterly disappointed" not to have achieved an "improved outcome" after lobbying Water Minister Kevin Humphries, told the Gazette Labor had "16 years to find a permanent solution but failed to even explore this issue".

"It [Labor] is now pushing another one of its empty promises - which appears to be to reinstate an unsustainable measure without any long-term solution.

"Even if Labor had been too complacent while in government to investigate this issue, it could have read Blue Mountains City Council's 2008 Sewage Strategy which raised the likelihood this subsidy would be removed. Labor did nothing."

Mrs Sage said Labor was showing "desperation in opposition ... and it seems the residents of the Blue Mountains will pay, as political pawns in Labor's election campaign".

Sydney Water said the the pump-out subsidy was never intended as a permanent measure and has offered $3500 to affected residents to help them determine how to dispose of their waste water.

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