Lisa Neville has turned a blind eye for the past three years, claiming there’s “no real evidence” that competition from water speculators and investors has pushed up prices, while a growing number of our farmers are forced to sell off entire dairy herds or shut up shop because they can’t afford to pay sky-high water bills.
There’s genuine concern about the lack of transparency in Victoria’s water market and media reports at the weekend highlight the unethical way the market can be manipulated to the detriment of farmers who rely on this water to make a living.
The Andrews Government must ensure there are stronger obligations on water traders to ensure transactions are conducted fairly and with transparency.
Real estate agents, for example, cannot accept commissions from both a buyer and a seller for the same transaction. These protections don’t exist in water trading.
Farmers under pressure from high water prices are frustrated the Andrews Government won’t act to increase transparency and accountability in the water market.
A Colliers International 2019 Agribusiness Forecast Report looked into the role of speculators in Australian water markets. According to Colliers International, “investors are growing market participants and holders of water entitlements”. Speculators Blue Sky were found to have an annual return of 34.4 per cent in the 2018 calendar year, while Duxton Water produced total returns to shareholders of 40 per cent over the 2018 calendar year.
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