Improvements to the water market can be made to improve transparency and operability, but the market itself is not fundamentally broken. Opposition Water Spokesperson, Senator Perin Davey told the Australian Water Brokers Association (AWBA) today.
Speaking to the AWBA annual general meeting, Senator Davey said she would be open to working with the Government to deliver on the recommendations of the pending Roadmap for water market reform.
“The Nationals and Liberals in Government tasked the ACCC with reviewing the water market and then we established a Committee to look at implementation of the recommendations and reform actions,” Senator Davey said.
“Some of the recommendations can be done by the Federal Government unilaterally, some need state-Federal cooperation and some need to be done by the States.
“The Committee, led by former public servant, Daryl Quinlivan, provided interim advice in December identifying some of the less complex areas for reform such as a water market participant code of conduct and improved transparency measures.
“One recommendation that should be implemented is sensible regulation of water brokers.
“This issue was reviewed several years ago to mixed feedback, but I think the market and the industry has evolved and regulation is now a good thing to participants confidence.
“I know AWBA have been calling for regulation for some time and, as long as it doesn’t lead to perverse outcomes for water users, I think it should be pursued.
“Water users want to be reassured that their broker is working in their best interest,” Senator Davey said.
Senator Davey was asked about recent reports about the additional 450GL water recovery target and calls for a return of buybacks.
“We don’t support buybacks because it squeezes the market,” she said.
“Demand doesn’t go away. Every time water is taken out of the consumptive pool, there is a flow-on market impact because irrigators still want and need water.
“I would much rather look at projects that leave more water in the system doing environmental good but may not necessarily be attached to transferable entitlements or licences. We need to look at how we can account for those projects.”