Victorian Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan has criticised the Victorian Government for "ignoring the enormous stress" fixed water charges are placing on irrigators within the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.
Ms Ryan, who was responding to the government's drought support package, said farmers had been calling for assistance on fixed water charges or direct relief on council rates for more than 12 months, but the government’s drought assistance package did not deliver either.
“For months we have been calling on Daniel Andrews to help farmers in northern Victoria by helping to meet fixed water charges, as occurred during the millennium drought,” she said.
“Water is now trading at prices that exceed anything sustained during the millennium drought and is expected to rise even further.
“If Daniel Andrews was serious he would step in and help northern Victoria’s irrigators by helping to meet the cost of fixed water charges and providing direct council rate relief.”
In response, a government spokesperson said the government had appointed a strategic advisory panel to review fixed water charges.
“We know there is a real need to keep reducing costs for irrigators as much as possible — particularly those facing very high market prices for water,” the spokesperson said.
“To help achieve this we appointed a strategic advisory panel which found that the most effective and sustainable way to reduce fixed charges is to reduce the costs of irrigation delivery infrastructure.
“Goulburn-Murray Water took this feedback on board and is now working to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, so they can pass on savings to customers.
“Delivery share arrangements in northern Victoria have also been reviewed and changes to fixed charges are being worked through with GMID irrigators through the price review work.”