Water charge review promised
An elected Liberal Nationals government will review the charges for Goulburn-Murray Water and Lower Murray Water, according to Shadow Minister for Water and Member for Euroa Steph Ryan.
The review, which will examine water storage categories, including bulk water and entitlement storage, was announced by Ms Ryan in Seymour this week.
Ms Ryan said there has been a dramatic change in the way water is used, sold and traded since the Victorian Government unbundled water rights in 2007.
‘‘We’ve had big developments around the trading of water, and it’s time that the storage and distribution charges for GoulburnMurray Water and Lower Murray Water were reviewed to ensure they remain fair and equitable,’’ she said.
‘‘There’s significant concern among rural communities that delivery shares are acting as a handbrake on development, because people are reluctant to purchase land when it also comes with huge costs with delivery shares.’’
‘‘We will set up a strategic advisory committee to do that work, and we will seek the input of irrigators, landholders and communities across Northern Victoria to understand how those charges can be reformed to deliver the most fair and equitable outcomes.’’
Ms Ryan said Australia is at a critical moment with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
‘‘I don’t expect Victoria will walk away — obviously that’s a decision for the Victorian Water Minister — but the key thing for us is that we approach this debate with cool and logical heads,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘I think it is deeply disappointing that the federal Labor Government would choose to side with the Greens on an issue that they know could potentially put the plan, and facing communities, in jeopardy.
‘‘We need to be putting people before politics with the decision-making around the plan, and that is what Labor has not done with its decision to side with the Greens.’’
However, Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville said water prices are set by the Essential Services Commission (ESC), not by the Government.
‘‘Yet again, Steph Ryan has been left behind in another water debate,’’ Ms Neville said.
‘‘We’re ensuring that Goulburn Murray Water operates as efficiently as possible to ensure prices remain affordable for customers.
‘‘That’s why last week we announced changes to the structure and culture of the organisation to drive efficiencies and ensure all water users have access to reliable and affordable water.’’
Ms Neville also said the Victorian Government introduced a strategic advisory panel to review operations of Goulburn Murray Water last year and had invested $2 billion into modernising infrastructure in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District.
Monitoring fairness: Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville