Opposition leader Alistair Coe has floated the idea of establishing an ACT water authority as part of a wider shakeup of the territory's public service if the Liberals win the next election.
But Mr Coe has ruled out job cuts if he forms government after the October 2020 ballot, declaring he could find efficiencies in the territory's bureaucracy by "empowering and de-stressing" public servants.
One of his first orders of business could be an overhaul of the ACT government-owned monopoly water provider, Icon Water.
Mr Coe said the ACT might be better served if water and sewerage services were brought into an existing government directorate, or an entirely new authority.
He said Icon Water was run like a government department but with the "largesse" of a big private sector company, pointing to the salaries of its executive staff as evidence.
The managing director of Icon Water has an annual salary package worth $764,197, more than double the amount earned by the head of Canberra Health Services.
"It's just not right that the chief financial officer of Icon Water gets paid about $100,000 a year more than the head of the ACT Treasury," Mr Coe said.
"There are all sorts of problems here."
Mr Coe said that as part of a possible restructure, Icon Water could be retained as a "shell company", with all of its staff and operators moved to the potential new water authority. He stressed there would no job losses as a result of the move.
The ACT's planning and development directorate could also be in line for a revamp under a Liberal Government.
Mr Coe said he sympathized with planning officers, whose job of assessing detailed applications was made more difficult by overly complex rules and regulations.
He said the planning system could made more simple and streamlined, helping staff to make decision more quickly, easily and independently.
The public sector shakeup will form part of Mr Coe's election platform, along with his party's signature tax policies.
He used last week's budget reply speech to announce the Liberals would freeze rates for its full first term if it toppled Labor at the 2020 election. The Opposition had already pledged to abolish payroll tax if elected.
The Barr government has lambasted the proposed rates freeze, saying it would result in cuts to health, education and other public services. The abolition of payroll tax would leave the territory budget with a $600 million hole each year from 2020, according to the government.
About 90 per cent of Canberra businesses no longer pay tax on staff wages after the government lifted the payroll threshold to $2 milion.
On Thursday, Mr Coe said the Liberals were still working on their policy platform and costings. But he suggested that steadily raising the payroll tax threshold would stimulate economic activity, which would help compensate for the loss of revenue.
He said the process of abolishing payroll tax would happen over a number years, although the details were yet to be finalised.
Speaking at the Property Council's post-budget lunch on Thursday, Mr Barr again took aim at the Liberals' planned rates freeze as he defended the rate increases being forced upon Canberrans under his own tax reforms.
"We are not going to gut the throat in the way that the territory opposition leader has indicated," Mr Barr said.
"We are not going to cut services, we are not going to starve out people of the services they need. I'm going to buy into that game."