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Food producers hit by inefficient bureaucracy

Regional food producers are fighting another battle with what they believe is an “inept and inefficient bureaucracy” that wants to hit them with massive fee increases.

These could be more than 60 per cent, if recommendations from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) are accepted.

Murray Valley Private Diverters chair Andrew Hicks said food producers want “this bureaucracy gone mad” to end. He said a number of regional water advocacy organisations would be sending submissions to IPART this week.

The price hikes are being proposed under the NSW Water bulk rural charges, and through a review of water management prices that are passed on by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

“The MDBA is seeking a 62 per cent increase in fees and charges, which is all brought about by its inability to run the system efficiently which is there for all to see and must be called out and rectified,” Mr Hicks said.

“By our calculations our water delivery companies run with water losses of about 10 per cent, which equates to 90 per cent efficiency, and our farmers are doing everything in their power to be ultra-efficient, because they have to if they want to stay viable.

“Meanwhile, the MDBA runs the river system with 30 per cent losses, equating to a 70 per cent efficiency. And under its rules, the farmers have to pay this. As such we have a situation where the most efficient water users in our nation, if not the world, are being slugged by bureaucratic inefficiency that governments are unable or unwilling to fix.

“To make matters worse, they want to pass on these costs to businesses that have barely had any access to water for three years. Can someone tell me how that is equitable? I can’t see that it is delivering the ‘fair and balanced’ Basin Plan the MDBA is supposed to implement,” Mr Hicks said.

He added district farmers were astounded when increases far above CPI were being mooted and believe this shows, yet again, that those making decisions are way out of touch with the realities being faced by food producers.

“We continue to wear the pain of poor management decisions made from city offices. It’s as simple as that,” Mr Hicks concluded.

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