Advisory Group on water market to progress reform

Nov 11, 2021 | Media Releases 2021

An advisory group of technical experts, water market users and stakeholder representatives will provide the Government with key advice on how to implement recommendations from the ACCC water market review leading to an improved water market.

Former water policy officer – now Senator for NSW – Perin Davey, said the announcement of the eight-member Group is an important next step to ensure that any reform is fit-for-purpose without unintended consequences.

“The water market started in the NSW Murray irrigation districts where I live and has evolved from a tool for neighbours to transfer water, to an inter-valley and inter-state marketplace with a range of users, from farmers to investors to retirees,” Senator Davey said.

“The water market is now a key part of irrigation farming businesses with a range of products and services that farmers can utilise to give their businesses flexibility, but we know there are concerns about its operability and transparency.

“There is no doubt there is room for improvement in water markets to improve confidence for users, but we need to ensure that any reform will deliver the intended benefits without burdening users with unnecessary costs.

“The ACCC identified some key areas for reform and it will be up to the Advisory Group to identify reforms that can be delivered over the short term, versus those which require more time and consideration.

“Whether the reforms are able to be effected unilaterally by the Commonwealth or whether they require State cooperation, will also be a consideration.

“The Advisory Group combine technical knowledge with first-hand experience so I expect they will be able to consider all the potential consequences of any reform,” she said.

In announcing members of the Advisory Group, Water Minister Keith Pitt said they will play a key role in assisting the former Agriculture and Water Resources Department Secretary, Daryl Quinlivan, in his new capacity as the Principal Adviser.

“Mr Quinlivan’s agricultural and water background, along with the expertise and real-world experiences of the Advisory Group, will provide the important foundations needed to work with Basin states and develop a reform roadmap for improving the structure, governance and operation of water markets in the Basin,” Mr Pitt said.

“We have been listening to communities in the Murray–Darling Basin who want practical solutions. We owe it to all our Basin communities and water users to get this right.

“I’m confident that the representatives from throughout the Basin will enable us to deliver pragmatic and sensible reform that benefits everyone, not just a select few.

The members of the Advisory Group on water market reforms are:

• Mrs Jenny McLeod – Manager Policy and Communication, Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative Limited (CICL)

• Mr Richard Anderson – Farmer, former Victorian Farmers Federation Water Council Chair

• Mr Stuart Armitage – Farmer, former Queensland Farmers Federation President

• Ms Rosalie Auricht – General Manager, Renmark Irrigation Trust

• Mr Phil Grahame – General Manager, Ruralco Water

• Dr Andrew Stoeckel – Chief Economist at Centre for Regional Economic Development in the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

• Mr Dave Appels – Economist at Frontier Economics

• Dr Peter Hendy – Chief Executive Officer at Peter Hendy Consulting

Principal Adviser Daryl Quinlivan said Basin communities wanted assurance that they had reliable, fit-for-purpose water markets that gave everyone a fair go and that the community could have confidence in.

“I congratulate the members appointed and am looking forward to working together to develop a roadmap that can inform the Australian Government’s approach to this critical piece of public policy,” Mr Quinlivan concluded.

For more information about water market reform visit the Department’s website.

For more information on the members of the Advisory Group, visit here.