PROBE INTO IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT
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