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ACCC Water Market review ‘timely and encouraging’

That’s the message from Phil Endley, Murray Irrigation’s CEO following the company’s recent submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Interim Report into Water Markets.

The ACCC released its Interim Report into Water Markets on 30 June 2020 and offered stakeholders the opportunity to submit their feedback by Friday, 30 October 2020.

“Murray Irrigation submitted its response, which included 15 key items that we believe will drive fairer, more transparent and equitable rules for our region. This is significant, as we’ve historically been negatively impacted by the many bureaucratic decisions involved in managing Murray river resources.

Phil said he was pleased to see the wide-ranging scope of the inquiry and urges other institutions, government agencies and bodies to follow the ACCC’s comprehensive and holistic approach.

“There are many reports and inquiries being completed and it’s important that decision makers understand how the pieces fit together and look at the broader picture, rather than take a single-issue view.  Above all else we need a single, strategic overview of the Basin to resolve some of these questions.

“For us, this is much more than just buying and selling water; it’s about the importance of growing a diverse range of Australian food and fibre in our region, acknowledging losses resulting from delivering water a long way downstream, metering compliance and acknowledging unintended third-party Basin Plan impacts” said Phil.

Phil said that while the company supports the increased scrutiny of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, it was important that any changes and compliance efforts were funded by the government and not by farmers or local irrigation companies.

“We support greater water market transparency and additional compliance measures through Codes of Conduct and regulatory safeguards.”

“We recognise the need for change and welcome this. It can’t, however, be at the expense of local farmers and irrigation services who have already paid for twenty years of unfair water reform and years of drought,” he said.

The ACCC Water Market Inquiry commenced in August 2019 at the direction of the Australian Government. The ACCC is scheduled to release its final report in February 2021.

The ACCC’s Interim Report is available here.

Murray Irrigation’s submission to the Interim Report is available here.