Wa­ter charge re­view promised

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - By Gus McCub­bing An elected Lib­eral Na­tion­als gov­ern­ment will re­view the charges for Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter and Lower Mur­ray Wa­ter, Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan re­cently an­nounced in Sey­mour.

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

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