RiceGrowers' Association of Australia and SunRice jointly call for water market reform
Association of Australia (RGA) and Ricegrowers Limited (SunRice) lodged our
joint submission in response to the ACCC Murray-Darling Basin (Basin) water
markets inquiry - interim report on Friday. Read the submission here
While we support the
established water markets, in particular due to the wealth that has been
generated by the realisation of the value of held water, we also welcome the
ACCC’s key finding that the current markets require decisive and comprehensive
In particular, we
believe that the communities and industries dependent on annual irrigated
agriculture in the southern Basin have been disproportionally and negatively
impacted by the unintended and unforeseen impacts of the introduction of water
market and the related reforms.
For these reasons,
the RGA and SunRice have strongly supported the ACCC call for urgent, systemic
and lasting changes to the governance and regulation arrangements for the
Basin’s water markets.
As a priority, we
are seeking the development of a single water market information platform as a
one stop shop for market participants making trade decisions. This platform
should be a source of clear, timely and predictable information about recent
trades, water allocations, climate, system and trade rules, state sharing
arrangements, storage levels and more.
We have also
supported the ACCC’s finding that the water market must respect the physical
limitations of the system, including through preventing excessive system
losses. To this end, we urge the ACCC to give greater weight to its finding
that more needs to be done to mitigate river conveyance losses and their
underlying causes. Ultimately general security irrigators pay for these losses
through reduced allocation, despite their actions having no direct bearing on
the level of losses. This is a significant inequity of the system and something
that should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
In addition, we
support the ACCC finding that improved regulation of water market
intermediaries is required. Future regulation must include stronger obligations
to avoid conflicts of interest and prevent brokers from engaging in conduct
that undermines the integrity of the water market. At the same time, this
regulation should ensure the continuation of competition within the sector, and
prevent an excessive cost-burden for users.
All in all, we are
hopeful that the ACCC’s Final Report will set the agenda for market reform
across the next decade and beyond. To ensure the success of future reform it is
critical that adequate time and resources are dedicated to analysing the
various reform options, and that stakeholders, including the rice industry, are
adequately engaged and listened to throughout this process.
The Rice Industry is
collectively one of the major Murray Darling Basin water market participants.
For this reason, it was critical that our ssubmission accurately reflected the
concerns of our members and growers. To ensure this, the RGA and SunRice have
held a number of workshops with both the RGA Water Committee and members of the
SunRice Board, and also undertook a survey of members and growers. We are
incredibly thankful to all who took the time to participate in these processes.