Water Matters

Water (or rather lack thereof) hit the headlines in the city media in a big way in October. Coverage focused in large part on the water market and the Australian Competition and Consumer’s (ACCC) apparent focus on water barons in its Issues Paper released on 17 October. The environmental watering taking place through Barmah and elsewhere also attracted attention, particularly on 60 Minutes on 27 October. Drought, water access and markets also featured on the ABC’s Q&A on 28 October.

While the environmental watering is frustrating and perplexing for our members, it is worth noting these flows are from allocations against the high reliability entitlements the environment owns. The environment is getting zero allocation against its general security entitlements, the same as our members. The Commonwealth Water Act 2007 tightly restricts the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s (CEWH) discretion to trade allocation and specifically prohibits the Minister from directing the CEWH to trade its water. Cross-party support in both Houses of Parliament would be required to amend the Water Act. 

RGA’s submission on the NSW Murray and Lower Darling Water Resource Plan was lodged in October. We are liaising closely with the NSW Irrigator's Council and the minister’s office, advocating for our concerns in this and other water resource plans to be addressed before they are submitted to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority for accreditation. The submissions are on the RGA website, and the minister’s advisers are keen to know more about the draft plans’ shortcomings.

Next submission off the ranks will be to the ACCC inquiry into Water Market rules. It is due on 29 November, and the RGA water committee will be working through the issues to inform our submission. The ACCC issues paper can be accessed here.

Independent Panel Engagement Sessions
RGA members were encouraged to participate in consultation sessions with the Independent Panel Members David Mckenzie and Bruce Simpson between 30 September and October 4. 
Their document contains detailed summaries from each of the engagement sessions and will contribute to the development of the Panel’s Interim and Final Reports.