GMID irrigators urged to have their say on distribution of Connections Project savings

By Rodney Woods

DELWP is urging delivery shareholders in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District to provide feedback on the proposed approach to distributing the irrigators’ share that is available thanks to Connections project savings.

The Irrigators’ Share Consultative Committee, appointed by Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville in June 2019, examined the options to best distribute up to 75 Gl of water recovered from stage one of the Connections project.

After the investigation a range of options were suggested, including looking at one-off and ongoing options for distributing the water and the financial benefits, as well as combinations of the different approaches.

The committee found that a one-off distribution of benefits was the most practical solution.

As water shares are a critical component of people's businesses, it is proposed that water shares — or for those with small amounts of delivery share, the associated value — be issued directly to irrigators.

Victorian Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan accused the Victorian Government of cheating irrigators out of water they were owed.

“Irrigators were given an iron-clad guarantee by John Brumby that they would get an extra 75 Gl of high reliability water,” Ms Ryan said.

“Now that water is supposed to be returned to irrigators, Lisa Neville is cheating them of the full amount they’re owed.

“GMID irrigators should reject Labor’s plan to swindle them out of the savings they were promised.”

In response, Ms Neville accused Ms Ryan of playing politics with the issue.

“I am aware how important this water will be for many irrigators, that’s why I committed to a consultation process about how the water is distributed fairly and to what extent I could negotiate with the Commonwealth about any early release,” Ms Neville said.

“I am sure the shadow water minister is aware of this and should not be trying to play politics with this important decision.”

There will be two virtual town meetings for irrigators to ask questions about the proposal.

They will be held on Wednesday, April 29 and Thursday, May 14, both starting at 7 pm and finishing at 8.30 pm.

To have your say on the proposal, virtually attend the meetings, or for more information, visit: https://engage.vic.gov.au/irrigators-share

Irrigators have until Monday, June 1, to have their say.