Local member questions exorbitant prices
LOCAL couple, Ian Watson and partner Kathryn Mullane purchased their small hobby farm, an 87 acre property at Invergordon, just 3 years ago for the purpose of enjoying an acreage lifestyle.
The decommissioned dairy farm had been stripped of its permanent water by previous owners, leaving an attached delivery share of 1.69ML/day, which at the time, the couple understood would incur an annual cost of $4,500.
The couple who were first home buyers, like so many others believed that this amount could be managed by income earned from cropping the land.
Unfortunately, in just three years this delivery share has almost doubled and without the means to afford the total payout figure of approximately $70,000 and the prospects of continued increases in yearly costs, the couple is left with a dilemma.
Ian Watson said, “There is no joy for us because we don’t irrigate, we don’t plan to buy water. We are stuck with a fee, which will continue to rise unless we pay it out.”
“The water rights have been allowed to be sold off and we are left holding the baby so to speak.”
“I don’t mind paying an access fee, but not to this extent. If we had known back then what we know now, we wouldn’t have bought.”
“Everyone in this situation needs to get together on this issue, so we can do something about changing it.”
The couple’s situation is not uncommon according to Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone.
“In the case of Ian and Kathryn, these are the kinds of families we want to come to our area and if this was a one off, you would say it’s very sad, but we get reports like this far too often. With water delivery share there is no discretionary income, which is a serious problem. This money is going out of these peoples pockets with no return.”
Dr Stone says the problem lies not only in exorbitant fee structures, but also in the discrepancy of pricing across different regions.
“I am urgently calling on The Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria to launch an enquiry to justify these increases which are way above the Consumer Price Index and to reconsider their pricing structure which is imbedded in these delivery charges.”
“This is a serious problem, which needs investigation, before it destroys our communities prospects of continuing to being viable.”
Ian Watson is appealing for anyone in a similar circumstance to contact him
at email:[email protected] or phone 0408 083 240.