Another water report, another set of problems identified

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SUFFERING FROM WATER REPORT FATIGUE… Local Member of Shepparton District, Suzanna Sheed. Photo: Katelyn Morse

With the volumes of reporting that is undertaken by the government in relation to water and water entitlements, you would imagine that they might be close to reaching some sort of consensus on how a sensible and largely agreeable arrangement might be arrived at. It would seem not, however.

In looking at one of the more recent reports, State Member for Shepparton District, Suzanna Sheed said she is concerned by many of the findings of the Procurement of Strategic Water Entitlements report.

Commissioned by former Federal Water Minister, David Littleproud and conducted by the Australian National Audit Office, the report highlights several issues with the Commonwealth’s buyback of water to meet environmental targets.

“Like many, I’m suffering a bit from Murray Darling Basin Plan report fatigue,” Ms Sheed said.

“But this is an important document and points to numerous shortcomings in the water buyback process. I’m concerned the Auditor-General criticises the nature of these closed-tender deals and that commercial decisions were reportedly taking place in the Federal Water Minister’s office.

“It points to yet another area where transparency is lacking in the water market.”

Coming at the issue with a different approach, eleven municipalities in Riverina and upper Murray region have issued a joint Water Position Paper that ‘seeks a sustainable, apolitical, ethical evidence-based suite of solutions to ensure the optimal use of water across the Murray Darling Basin.’

The paper looks at aspects of water trading and in particular, the ‘unbundling’ from land use that has led to unforeseen problematic outcomes that enable water to become a profit-making entity in own right rather than serve the broader needs of the community and nation as a whole.