Local News

Consumer Watchdog to Crack Down on Water Market

st helens beach estuary 1

Farmers are calling for an end to the artificially inflated water market.

With prices hitting $800 a megalitre, producers are concerned a dry spring could raise them to a record $1200/ML, similar to that of the Millenium Drought which sent many farmers broke.

Nealer Bennett from the Almond Board of Australia has written to the Federal Water Resources Minister David Littleproud on behalf of 12 horticultural bodies.

The groups are calling for the Federal Government to enforce tougher trading practices  and put a temporary ban on non-water users from buying and selling.

It came hours after The Australian exposed claims that non-farming investors had been hoarding water and playing the market to artificially raise water prices six-fold

Minister Littleproud said he has tasked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with immediately investigating and taking action on improper trading of water.

“I’ve asked the ACCC to step in and use its powers of prosecution if it finds evidence Commonwealth laws have been breached.

“The ACCC will also refer the matters to ASIC if they identify any relevant breaches of the Corporations Act.

“I’ve also asked the MDBA to use their powers under the Basin Plan to investigate allegations related to transparent water price reporting.

“I will also be writing to Basin Ministers to expedite their work to improve the accuracy and transparency of water prices on state trade registers.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin agrees it is an urgent issue to address.

"Unless the market can operate the way it fundamentally should, I fear the very lifeblood of communities along the river will become unviable," he said.

"These allegations need to be properly investigated, and if required the Government must act to correct any unfair practices driving up the price of water, should they be identified."

Image at top CC murray river estuary by freeaussiestock.com