Governments need to stop procrastinating, stop delaying and start taking decisive action on water reform.
The recent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report into water trading has highlighted yet another area that needs immediate attention, and community groups across the Murray-Darling Basin are calling on the Federal Government to heed the ACCC advice and make essential changes.
Organisations working together under the umbrella of Southern Connected Irrigators and Communities on Basin Plan and water management issues say they are desperate for the government procrastination to stop.
“We have a whole range of reports, the ACCC being the latest, calling for change,” SCIC member Kevin Cock said.
Mr Cock, the chairman of Sunraysia Citrus Growers, said the ACCC has highlighted that the Basin’s water markets need decisive and comprehensive reform, they need changes to governance arrangements, plus improved trade processes and market transparency.
What communities don’t need is further delays from Governments which have been too slow to act on a vast range of reports and recommendations.
He was supported by Griffith Business Chamber water spokesperson Paul Pierotti, who is also a member of SCIC.
“If effective legislation on water trading had been implemented, some of the problems our communities are facing – such as job losses, industry collapse and environmental damage - may have been avoided.
“The National Water Initiative (2004) stated water access entitlements would be recorded in publicly-accessible reliable water registers, yet this hasn’t been done.
“Governments have neglected their duty to protect farmers and rural communities across a range of areas in water policy. We need urgent change,” Mr Pierotti said.
Mr Cock and Mr Pierotti joined together in congratulating the ACCC for highlighting the inaction of governments to implement legislation that provides a more transparent, consistent and regulated water market.
“Its report acknowledges the imbalance which our various advocacy groups have been highlighting for years,” Mr Cock said.
Mr Pierotti added a major problem being faced was the inability of Governments, at state and federal level, to make the changes that are so obviously required.
“The inability thus far of the NSW Government to legislate an effective water register is a prime example. All we get is political posturing, and again it is the farmers and our rural communities who suffer. We want an end to these political games; replaced by policy that protects our food producers and those who rely on them,” he concluded.