Views sought on Murray-Darling Basin water markets

17 October 2019

The ACCC is calling on irrigators and other water market participants to share their views on the operation of water markets in the Murray-Darling Basin.

An issues paper released today outlines the key issues the ACCC will consider in its Murray-Darling Basin water markets inquiry. In addition, the ACCC has announced a series of public forums to be held across the Basin during November. The forums will provide an opportunity to provide information and make submissions to the ACCC inquiry in person.

The ACCC will also be using its compulsory information gathering powers to obtain a very detailed picture of trading activity in water markets since 2012.

“This inquiry follows a period of significant change in water markets and in irrigated agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin. It also comes at a time of drought, water shortages and significant increases in water prices,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

“We understand how important the effective operation of these markets is for the economic health of communities across the Basin, and for the Australian economy more broadly. We are also aware there are a range of concerns about these markets.”

The ACCC’s inquiry will focus on:

  • The factors driving changes in water markets and water prices,
  • How market participants (including irrigators, investors, water brokers, water exchanges, water registries and others) use market information; and whether water markets are sufficiently transparent,
  • How market regulation, regulatory agencies and policy differences between states and trading zones have affected water markets,
  • How the practices and behaviours of different market participants and interested parties impact water markets, and
  • The extent to which the objectives of water markets have been achieved, and how overall market competition and efficiency have changed over time.

The ACCC will hold public forums throughout November.

“These forums will be a chance for ACCC Commissioners and staff to hear directly from irrigators and other water market participants,” Mr Keogh said.

“We want to hear from a broad range of people and organisations with an interest in the use and trade of water in the Murray-Darling Basin.”

The public forums will take place at:

  • Mildura - 11.30 am, Thursday 7 November, Benetook Room, Alfred Deakin Centre, 190 Deakin Avenue, Mildura, VIC
  • Renmark - 10 am, Friday 8 November, Renmark Club, 160 Murray Avenue, Renmark, SA
  • Griffith - 2 pm, Monday 11 November, Griffith Exies Club, 6/12 Jondaryan Avenue, Griffith, NSW
  • Deniliquin - 10 am, Tuesday 12 November, Mountbatten Room, Returned Services League Club, 72 End Street, Deniliquin, NSW
  • Kerang - 6 pm, Tuesday 12 November, Kerang Senior Citizens Community Meeting Room, 169 Boundary Street, Kerang, VIC
  • Shepparton - 12 pm, Wednesday 13 November, Shepparton Golf Club, 15 Golf Drive, Shepparton, VIC
  • Dubbo - 10 am, Monday 18 November, Returned Services League Club, Corner of Brisbane Street & Wingewarra Street, Dubbo, NSW
  • St George - 11 am, Wednesday 20 November, St George Cultural Centre, 112 Victoria Street, St George, QLD
  • Narrabri - 11 am, Thursday 21 November, The Crossing Theatre, 117 Tibbereena Street, Narrabri, NSW
  • Murray Bridge - 12 pm, Friday 29 November, Murray Bridge Golf Club, 40 Ritter Street, Murray Bridge, SA

The issues paper is available at Murray Darling Basin Water Markets inquiry. Submissions in response to the issues paper can be made via the ACCC Consultation Hub or emailed to waterinquiry@accc.gov.au. Submissions close on 29 November 2019.

The inquiry is a public process and written submissions will generally be made available on the ACCC website. Further details about how the inquiry will deal with confidential information are available in the issues paper.

Interested parties can register for one of the ACCC’s public forums at the ACCC website.

Background

Water markets in the Murray-Darling Basin include various separate state-based markets, as well as the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin market where trade occurs across water systems in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

On 8 August 2019, the Australian Government directed the ACCC to undertake a public inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin water markets.

The ACCC was asked to recommend options to enhance markets for tradeable water rights, including options to enhance their operations, transparency, regulation, competitiveness and efficiency. The ACCC must give the Treasurer an interim report on the inquiry by 31 May 2020 and complete the inquiry and provide a report to the Treasurer by 30 November 2020.

Release number: 
193/19
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