PROBE INTO IR­RI­GA­TION MAN­AGE­MENT

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLIN MACGREGOR

THE op­er­a­tions of Tas­ma­nian Ir­ri­ga­tion will be scru­ti­nised in a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry re­spond­ing to farmer con­cerns.

In­de­pen­dent Up­per House Mem­ber Greg Hall this week put for­ward a notice mo­tion to set up a Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil se­lect com­mit­tee in­quiry into TI.

The com­mit­tee will look at the is­sue of wa­ter rights and other as­so­ci­ated as­sets cur­rently ad­min­is­tered by TI.

Mr Hall will chair the com­mit­tee, which will in­clude Up­per House mem­bers Ivan Dean, Craig Far­rell, Leonie His­cutt and Ta­nia Rattray.

Mr Hall said the aim was to look at con­cerns raised by farm­ers in­clud­ing the man­age­ment of the state’s ir­ri­ga­tion schemes, the costs re­lat­ing to that and the fu­ture role of TI.

“TI was orig­i­nally set up to de­sign and con­struct these schemes with an inflow of fed­eral and farmer money and in essence that has now been com­pleted,” he said.

“Now some peo­ple are ask­ing what the rea­son is for its con­tin­ued ex­is­tence and where to from here for TI. “I ac­cept there are a range of opin­ions on that and I’m not go­ing to pre-empt where a com­mit­tee might land on this.”

Tas­ma­nian Ir­ri­ga­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ni­cola Mor­ris de­scribed the in­quiry as a great op­por­tu­nity.

“There is a per­cep­tion that all we do is turn on a tap, but there is ob­vi­ously a huge amount more in­volved than that,” she said.

“We see this as a very good op­por­tu­nity for us to im­prove the un­der­stand­ing and knowl­edge about the core func­tions and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of TI.” While one of TI’s main roles has been to de­sign, con­struct and com­mis­sion new ir­ri­ga­tion schemes, Ms Mor­ris said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had a clear man­date to run the schemes. Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Wayne John­ston sup­ports the in­quiry.

“There have been a lot of con­cerns from our mem­bers about what could be done bet­ter,” he said.

“TI have said they’re do­ing the best that they can. I don’t know if TI, even though a gov­ern­ment en­ter­prise, I’m not sure it has had much par­lia­men­tary scru­tiny, but if they’re do­ing what they say, there shouldn’t be any­thing to hide.”

TI was es­tab­lished in 2008 and it over­sees 19 ma­jor ir­ri­ga­tion schemes across the state.

Many farm­ers have re­cently ques­tioned whether TI is the right or­gan­i­sa­tion to run fully op­er­a­tional schemes.

Some of the schemes have also recorded sig­nif­i­cant cost blow-outs.

Ad­ver­tise­ments call­ing for sub­mis­sions are due in the next cou­ple of weeks and pub­lic hear­ings will also be held.

Once the in­quiry is com­pleted, the com­mit­tee will pre­pare a re­port for the State Gov­ern­ment that will in­clude key rec­om­men­da­tions.

There have been a lot of con­cerns from our mem­bers about what could be done bet­ter

WAYNE JOHN­STON

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