From the Darling River Action Group Minutes -- July Meeting

Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 11:47am

The announcement (BDT 29th June) that an irrigator had been fined $370,000 for stealing water from the Lachlan River in 2008 was discussed. It is reassuring that the NSW Government has caught and fined one of the water thieves, but the process taking 4 years is a bit long. We wonder how much profit was made from the 280 megalitres that was stolen, and how often such acts took place before he was caught.

The announcement of two big water sales (BDT 19th June) to the Commonwealth was discussed. Tandou sold 14 gigalitres for more than $19 million at a profit of over $1 million. The water licences sold were not from Tandou’s Menindee farms. Tandou has evolved into a water trading company, buying and selling water rights.  The other sale was 11 Gigalitres from Select Harvest. DRAG welcomes these purchases by the Commonwealth, taking 25 Gigalitres of water licence out of irrigation and putting it back into the environment.

It is unfortunate that the purchase involved us taxpayers giving Tandou a profit of over $1 million, but that is what happens when water trading is allowed and conservative politicians put pressure on government buybacks.

We did not hear any screams from the irrigation lobby when Tandou bought up the water licences, only when the government does the same thing.

There was a major announcement today about the Murray Darling Ministerial Council coming to some agreement and some disagreement about the Basin Plan. Part of the process required under the Water Act was for the proposed plan to go to the states for a period of 6 weeks for comment. After that there was a discussion between the states and the federal minister Tony Burke. The plan will now be sent back to the MDBA for further modification, after which the minister will decide if it is ready to be submitted to parliament. The document setting out the agreement between states and feds gives no good news for the Darling River.

These minutes have been taken straight from the DRAG document, no changes have been made.