Water

Review call for trading

By Country News

A review of water trading must be undertaken by the next federal government, regardless of who is in power, according to Speak Up.

The Coalition has committed to calling on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to review water trading in the southern basin if it wins the election.

But Speak Up spokesperson Jim Muirhead said with water trading at $600/Ml the need for a review and rule change was ‘‘obvious’’.

‘‘There are corporations making significant financial gains, but it’s at the cost of the family farmer’s viability,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m not sure this was the intention when water and land were separated. We have had these unintended consequences of rule changes and they need to be rectified.

‘‘A comprehensive investigation into the water market and water ownership is well overdue, and perhaps the announcement by the Prime Minister suggests Canberra might be starting to understand there is a real problem with water in the southern basin.’’

Under the Coalition proposal, the ACCC would be tasked with examining the water market’s transparency and operation, developing market trends, and the role of water brokers, investment funds and significant traders.

Mr Muirhead said any review must be transparent and involve communities impacted by past decisions.

‘‘Governments need to bring farmers and communities back onto a level playing field,’’ he said.

‘‘The reality, as we have seen recently, is that farmers and communities have lost faith in governments to listen and act on sound local advice.

‘‘Academics who live in concrete jungles rarely have a grasp on reality when conducting reviews and recommendations, which is why we are in such a mess.’’