The Rudd Government must guarantee that all holders of water licences in the areas concerned will be able to take part in tenders announced today, Coalition spokesman on the Murray Darling Basin Simon Birmingham said today.
The Government today announced three tenders totalling $270 million will be conducted in the southern connected River Murray system in early 2010.
However, the National Water Commission last week confirmed Victoria’s 4 per cent cap on entitlement trading had caused distortions in the market:
During 2008–09, the 4% limit on net exports of entitlements out of irrigation districts was triggered in six irrigation districts in Victoria, which therefore constrained entitlement trade out of those districts.
“Constraints and limitations on trade created by Victoria’s cap were highlighted by two separate independent reports last week – from the National Water Commission and the Productivity Commission,” Senator Birmingham said.
“As the Rudd Government rushes ahead to spend another $270 million, we need to be confident it is receiving maximum value for money in the southern Basin and without disproportionately increasing pressure on regions without such artificial cap restrictions.
“While the Rudd Government continues to spend money on purchasing entitlements yielding minimal ‘real’ allocated water, we again urge it to bring to fruition as soon as possible some of the billions of dollars of promised irrigation infrastructure projects.
“Investment in such infrastructure upgrades has the potential to see real and significant water savings returned to environmental flows across the Basin, while allowing regional communities to produce more with less water.”