IN response to the situation which local Invergordon couple, Ian Watson and Kathryn Mullane have found themselves in, Goulburn Murray Water Manager of Modernised Irrigation Business, Kevin Preece has said that the organisation sympathise with people in this situation, but the costs associated with the termination of delivery shares are there to support the people who want to stay productive in the system.
“The pricing structure itself is uniform across all Goulburn Murray operating areas, the differentiation in area cost is linked directly to the assets and the cost of operation of the system. Here in the Shepparton irrigation area we have the highest level of automation. It is an intense area with a high level of infrastructure, which while this increases cost, it also provides the best level of service with consistent flow rates and 24/7 delivery support to the farming community.”
“The challenge in these individual cases is to ensure that people who are servicing these customers and providing advice are equipped with the correct knowledge. We work closely with third party service providers such as Real Estate Agents, Water Brokers, Solicitors and the like to ensure they are relaying the correct information.”
In the case of Ian and Kathryn, Mr Preece said the couple have two options: to terminate the delivery share at a cost which is 10 times greater than the annual cost, or to trade/transfer the share to an interested party within the system.
The termination fee is regulated by the Australian Competitive and Consumer Commission and is a necessary cost because it covers the operation of the share and helps reduce the impact of reduced customer base on the remaining people in the system.
Mr Preece said, that when you purchase a property in an irrigation area you become a part of a scheme, a delivery ‘club’, which you are contracted to be a part of and people need to understand that.
“If people are struggling to pay rates, we have a hardship policy and are willing to help them in any way we can to help them meet their payment obligations. We are always willing to talk to people about their options.”