Feb 15, 2024 | Media Releases, Media Releases 2024

After boasting about how many farmers were willing to sell their water, today’s announcement that only 60 percent of the target volume had been purchased through last year’s tender must be an embarrassment for Tanya Plibersek and the Albanese Labor Government.

Announced with great fanfare in March 2023, today we learn the voluntary water tender process only returned 26.25GL of the 44.3GL target.

Shadow Water Minister, Perin Davey said it was only in October last year when Tanya Plibersek was announcing on X (formerly Twitter) that the 250 offers totalled more than double the targeted volume[1], yet they still couldn’t reach the target.

“Spin it whatever way you want, today’s announcement shows that it is not that easy to recover water,” Senator Davey said.

“After crowing in October how successful the tender has been, the Minister should come clean and tell us why they could only recover a fraction of their target?

“We have said all along, the low hanging fruit is gone. Further water recovery is going to come at increased costs to both the Government and communities.

“As it stands this recovery cost an average of $8,000/ML and we are hearing some purchases were 20 percent above the market rates at the same time for the product purchased.

“But we don’t actually know how much the Government has paid or what kind of water product they have purchased because not all of these purchases have yet been published on the AusTender website[2].

“Despite promising transparency, the largest player in the water market, the one who has the most significant impact on prices – The Government, has not released the information most relevant to the market.

“To make it worse the new rules to prevent market manipulation passed by Parliament last year don’t commence until mid-2026 the date by which most of the water recovery is due to be complete.”

Senator Davey said the Government needs to explain how they will proceed in recovering the remaining 18,500ML under the bridging the gap target and how much it will cost, including any special deals the minister cuts with the ACT Government.


[1] Tanya Plibersek on X: 11 am 31 October 2023

[2] As at 8:50am 15/02/24