Confusion reigns in the water market as the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) are forced to release a clarifying statement about the status of buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin.
Shadow Minister for Water, Perin Davey, said mixed messages coming from DCCEEW and the Minister have left water market participants scratching their heads.
“At Senate Estimates on Friday, we were told 46GL of surface water entitlements will be bought back across NSW, ACT and Queensland – they even broke it down to the gigalitres per valley,” Senator Davey said.
“Deputy Secretary, Lyn O’Connell, told Estimates that Basin Ministers had agreed to that recovery as a matter of priority.
“On the weekend, we had the Minister saying she has received approaches and the Labor Government will examine the list of farmers who have previously offered to sell their water to the Commonwealth.
“Today we have DCCEEW saying the media have it wrong.
“Meanwhile, over the weekend, we have seen water brokers test the appetite for sales to the Commonwealth and other brokers have had clients remove offers in wait for a Commonwealth tender and the market is in turmoil,” Senator Davey said.
Senator Davey said the water market is a live market subject to the same sort of reactions to market indicators as the share market.
“Words have consequences,” she said.
“Every time Elon Musk tweets about the Tesla business, the stock price responds. Every time the Minister or her Department talks about entering the water market, it responds.
“Their actions to date have been disruptive on the market – and this from a Minister who claimed she can’t disclose how much money she has set aside for buybacks because she doesn’t want to distort the market,” Senator Davey said.