Independent Member for Murray Helen Dalton MP has put through a new bill that will stop irrigators from being able to sell their floodplain harvesting licenses back to the Government for financial compensation.
Mrs Dalton said that the flow and collection of water across farmer’s properties are already regarded as bonus water by the Government, and that irrigators should not be profiting by being able to sell that water back to the Government.
“It’s a recipe for more rorts that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
“A lot of people have put in for more water than what they will ever capture in their license, so that they can then sell it back to the government,” she said.
“I don’t think the Liberal Party understand what the National Party has done.
“They will have to understand the implications of this on their budgets, if they don’t support this bill.”
Mrs Dalton said that when she spoke with previous Minister for Water, Melinda Pavey MP, on the subject last year, Ms Pavey said that floodplain harvesting licenses were not compensable.
Mrs Dalton said that there was still a lack of clarity regarding the Government’s stance on the matter.
To avoid another Watergate Scandal in which the Federal Government paid $80 million for non-existent water, this law needs to be made explicitly clear.
“This will put a line in the sand, it is an opportunity for the Government to clarify things; otherwise, the Government will be paying out these licenses in the future. “
“It is a very murky area, so here is a chance for them to set the record straight and so that irrigators can’t sell their floodplain harvesting licences back to the government for financial compensation.”
Much of the Murkiness stems from a bill introduced to Parliament in 2014 by the Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water, Kevin Humphries.
The ‘Water Management Amendment Bill 2014’ (NSW) made it possible for existing floodplain harvesting license holders to claim for compensation if their flood flow water amounts were reduced.
Kevin Humphries bill made it possible for any floodplain diversion works constructed by large irrigators, to be licensed, and subsequently compensated from taxpayer pocket if the irrigator’s allocations were not met.
Mrs Dalton said that Independent MP Justin Field introduced a similar bill to stop floodplain licence holders seeking financial compensation into the Upper House last week.
By introducing this bill in both the Upper and Lower house, the bill will have its best opportunity to become a law.
The bill introduced in both houses is in line with recommendation number 20 of last year’s Upper House Inquiry; Select Committee on Floodplain Harvesting, which states that;
“If the NSW Government grants floodplain harvesting licences or entitlements, these should be strictly non-compensable and subject to Parliamentary oversight.”
Mrs Dalton said that she would be putting the bill forward immediately to highlight the National Party’s intentions.
“If the bill doesn’t go ahead it is going to send a very strong message about what is going on in this Government. “