Inequity in water buy-backs

There is an anomaly in the most recent round of water buy-backs released in October for the Murrumbidgee catchment according to Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack.

Mr McCormack has learnt that the Federal Government has refused to purchase water from willing sellers in the Batlow area despite the latest offer in the water buy-back round.

In July the government gave approval to the importation of Chinese apples, despite concerns by many Riverina growers about risks to local market prices and quarantine.

Some growers, worried about falling prices of Australian grown produce, have opted to cut down orchards and therefore will not need their entire water entitlement.

As such, they have decided to sell portion of their water allocation, however, has been told by the Government it is not required.

The growers were told, Mr McCormack said, that the Government did not wish to purchase water from unregulated streams, only regulated streams.

According to the Tender Guidelines 2010-11 the Government was not interested in accepting offers to sell unregulated and low reliability water entitlements in New South Wales and Victoria as they are not considered to be a high priority for adding to its portfolio of environmental water entitlements of this time.

Concerned growers told Mr McCormack that a licence is a licence and water is water.

"As a concerned grower told me, it is still water coming out of the Murrumbidgee catchment, whether it is from upstream or downstream, it should not matter," Mr McCormack said.

"This is just another example of the Government having its own agenda for irrigation communities.

"Surely it shouldn't matter where the water comes from.

"Here we have a willing seller, who is quite happy to sell his water entitlements back to the Government and they are not interested.

"This is hypocrisy at its worst."

Cristy Houghton