Opinion

Charmaine Quick reflects on 2019 in her latest column

By Rodney Woods

By Goulburn-Murray Water managing director Charmaine Quick

For more than a century, some of Australia’s most innovative primary producers have accessed Goulburn-Murray Water’s delivery system for precious irrigation water.

It is this system that fuels the region’s intensive agricultural industry; a globally renowned food production mecca.

And it is thanks to this system, farmers in G-MW’s serviced region compete on the world stage, attracting attention for their clean and green produce.

As the operator of the irrigation delivery system, G-MW is focused on ensuring the future prosperity of our customers and the region. This is ‘our G-MW’.

We know that adapting our business to meet modern-day challenges will benefit our customers who rely on irrigation for their livelihood. And it’s why we are undergoing massive renewal.

Reflecting on the past 12 months, we have made significant gains.

Our new leadership team is driving change throughout the business. A cornerstone of our Transformation Action Plan, a plan that is now well under way is the 2020-24 Pricing Submission.

Intensive community engagement undertaken during a two-year period to inform the submission delivered a chorus of voices calling for a fairer deal. Our proposal delivers just that.

We’re forecasting a revenue requirement of $443.0 million over four years to provide agreed services to our customers. This is a landmark drop of about 12 per cent from the previous water plan which required $504.7 million to provide similar services.

This is important because it means we don’t need to collect as much money from customers. It means we can pass these benefits back in the form of price cuts.

Our 2020-24 Price Submission delivers a price reduction of about 10 per cent for most of our customers. But that’s not all. It will also:

● Deliver fairer and more equitable tariffs by removing the price differentiation between water users and non-water users.

● Ensure customers are paying the same price for the same service by creating uniform delivery charges across our gravity irrigation area.

● Simplify service fees — in many cases reducing the amount customers pay.

● Investigate 365-day delivery service in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District to attract new investment to our region.

With new technologies, different approaches to how we do business and workforce efficiency programs, we are doing our part to assist our customers with the challenges facing our region.

Our new Channel-by-Channel Framework is another example of how we are developing asset solutions to reduce costs.

This is where the savings in capital and maintenance investment is coming from. The framework applies a more commercial focus to what we repair, maintain or rationalise, to keep the GMID delivering services that meet our agreed service standards.

Through natural attrition, more than 50 employees have left our organisation during the past 12 months. We have upskilled internal staff or restructured our units rather than replace those positions.

In 2020, we are supporting some eligible employees through a retirement program or to identify other opportunities in the local workforce. This approach will ensure skills and opportunity stay in our region.

This reduction in staff contributes to our ability to offer a price reduction to the majority of customers as part of our Pricing Submission.

It’s clear that transformation is necessary to deliver on the one thing that must not change — and that’s reliable, efficient services to our customers at an affordable price.