Call for consistency over carry-over rules

By Country News

An Invergordon orchardist has called for consistency around carryover water rules, as the Victorian Nationals pledge to start a review if elected in November’s state election.

Max Wright hosted Nationals MPs Steph Ryan and Tim McCurdy and Nationals’ Shepparton candidate Peter Schwarz at his Invergordon orchard, where the Nationals’ announcement was made.

Mr Wright said consistency was needed to plan for the longer term.

‘‘It’s been all right but we just need to check up on it and then once we’ve settled on it, keep it, so we can all work within that and know what we are doing,’’ he said.

‘‘A lot of it too, is understanding — and we hear a lot about environmental water and the effects on us ... I’d like a clear explanation of actually what is happening with the water.

‘‘So then we can develop our businesses around a set of rules that will be in place for a long period of time rather than wondering what the next move is going to be in regard to all of it.

‘‘A bit of consistency would be good.’’

Carryover rules were introduced in 2007 and were reviewed in 2012, but Ms Ryan explained why the review was necessary.

‘‘It was introduced back in 2007 when we were at the height of the millennium drought to give irrigators some tools to really manage the uncertainty and difficulties of drought,’’ she said.

‘‘In the last 10 years the way we use and store water and the way we trade water has changed a great deal and we think it’s time we conduct a review to make sure carryover is working well.’’

Mr Schwarz backed up his Nationals colleague, saying it was high on their election priorities.

‘‘This review is very important,’’ he said.

‘‘One of the reasons it’s one of the most important things is that it’s just not irrigators that recognise the importance of water, it’s also the business community in Shepparton itself and in towns like Nathalia and Numurkah.

‘‘They all understand how critical water is for production — and agricultural production drives the Shepparton region to a great extent.’’

However, Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville accused Ms Ryan of not being across her portfolio as Shadow Water Minister.

‘‘This is another example of Steph Ryan not being across her brief,’’ she said.

‘‘A review into carryover rules was already conducted in 2012 by her current boss Peter Walsh.

‘‘The review included a committee with representatives from the irrigation sector and northern Victorian community, including a number of changes to the rules which have since been implemented.

‘‘We’re always open to improving the rules to ensure they are transparent and working for the community but they also need certainty and confidence to plan and invest long-term.’’