Water charge review promised by Nationals

February 21, 2018

A Liberal Nationals government would review the charges of Victoria’s rural water authorities to ensure water storage and delivery costs are fair and equitable.

Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan announced the review, which will examine water storage categories, including bulk water and entitlement storage, last week.

‘‘Getting the balance right is vital to the future of Victoria’s irrigation communities,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Since Labor unbundled water rights in 2007, there has been rapid development and growth of water trading which has significantly influenced how, when and where customers use water.

‘‘More than a decade on, it’s important that we make sure the distribution of water charges is fair and equitable.’’

Victoria’s water ownership and entitlement framework has changed significantly since the millennium drought.

The review, to be conducted by an advisory committee, will also consider the appropriateness of current fixed and variable delivery fees assigned to each user category and the distribution of delivery shares among gravity and pumped districts.

Ms Ryan said if elected at November’s state election, the Liberal Nationals’ review of water storage and delivery charges would provide an opportunity for all stakeholders’ views to be heard and to inform government decision making.

‘‘There is significant concern that delivery shares are acting as a handbrake in regional communities which have lost water,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Some also believe that current storage costs unfairly favour traders, bulk entitlement and environmental water holders over irrigators.

‘‘If elected, we will review the pricing framework to ensure the storage and distribution charges being applied by Victoria’s rural water authorities are fair.’’

■Meanwhile, nominations have been opened by the National Party for the seat of Shepparton.

The party will use an approach called ‘community preselection’ to give residents of the Shepparton region a say on who stands for The Nationals at the Victorian election in November.

Prospective candidates can nominate until Friday, March 9, and voting will take place on Saturday, April 14.

The Nationals’ Victorian president Neil Pankhurst said the community preselection gave locals the unique opportunity to have their say on who would stand for them, in addition to who represented them after the election.

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