Call to clear up registers

By Country News

The National Irrigators’ Council has called for more transparent and clear water trading registers off the back of a Murray-Darling Basin Association report.

NIC chief executive officer Steve Whan believes it has raised some concerns.

‘‘This report shows that the water market has run way ahead of the antiquated systems put in place to register and keep track of trades,’’ Mr Whan said.

‘‘It re-affirms the need for action and the importance of further inquiries by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).

‘‘State-based water registers have failed to keep up with the needs of the market and irrigators. It’s like we are using a model T in a grand prix.

‘‘These reports show that there are huge gaps in information being registered on trades and, importantly, in quality control.’’

According to the report, 43 per cent of basin trades were recorded with a price of $0, with the sampled trades ‘‘unable to be supported with sufficient appropriate audit evidence to support prices processed’’.

‘‘NIC has called out the confusing and complex system a number of times — we do need to work to a much simpler, more transparent, consistent system, that can help everyone to get a better understanding of exactly what is happening in the water market,’’ Mr Whan said.

‘‘This report is an important contribution which should prompt real action from ministers and it is an important start on the next steps to be taken as part of the government’s promised ACCC review of the water market.

‘‘Reform needs to keep in mind simplification, not increased burden, and needs to be undertaken in close consultation with irrigators.’’