Member for Barker Tony Pasin has welcomed the release of the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) interim report in to the Murray Darling Basin Water Market.

In August 2019, the Commonwealth Government asked the ACCC to investigate water in the Murray-Darling Basin to recommend options to improve the operation, transparency, regulation, competitiveness and efficiency of markets for tradeable water rights.

Mr Pasin, who represents much of the Southern Basin in South Australia, said this investigation represents the most significant body of work on the economics of water in the basin ever done.

“It’s a substantial body of work and I commend the commissioner on the work so far. Given the lack of transparency in the market it’s not an easy investigation but it’s absolutely critical to the future of the basin and the communities living along the river who’s economies rely on it,” Mr Pasin said.

“For a substantial period of time we’ve been hearing that farmers and communities are concerned about the complexity and transparency of water trading in the Basin and the behaviour of brokers and investment funds,” Mr Pasin said. “In order to make necessary changes Government needs more than anecdotal evidence, which is why this body of work is so important. We need to get this right,” Mr Pasin said.

Basin water markets are worth around $1.5 billion a year to the Australian economy. Basin states create the majority of rules governing water trade in the Basin.

In its interim report, the ACCC found that water trading has brought substantial benefits to water users across the Basin and that tradeable water rights are a significant asset for many small and large rural enterprises.

However, the report found that the governance, regulatory and operational frameworks of state and territory governments have not been developed to deal with current water markets and are no longer adequate.

“The market has developed over time to become very valuable, particularly in dry times. What’s been clear for some time is that the rules around this market have not kept pace,” Mr Pasin said.

The report notes that water users need better information to take advantage of water markets and that overlapping governance arrangement between states contributes to the complexity.

The ACCC consulted extensively and will seek further community feedback before submitting its final report in November.

“I encourage those in the basin who interact with this market to make a submission. I very much look forward to receiving the final report and recommendations to improve the management of water markets, Mr Pasin said.


Media contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8531 2466