Another week, another stuff up in the Murray-Darling Basin. The purchase of Barnaby Joyce’s former department of 29 gigalitres for $80 million was pretty poor accounting.
This was 25 per cent more per megalitre than the vendor’s asking price.
A normal farmer cannot sell overland flow, so how come it happened in this valley?
Paying way over the odds no longer shocks us, as that’s business as usual for this department’s water purchases.
Last year, they paid nearly $40m above their own valuation for the Tandou water purchase in the Lower Darling, and they paid $17m for water in the Warrego that will never be able to be delivered outside that valley.
All these matters have been covered in an excellent investigation by the Australian Institute.
The shocking part is they paid $80m for over land flow licences. No one else can buy an over land flow licence, because it is attached to the land.
That means it only exists on the property. The licence, or the right to harvest that water, vanishes outside the farm gate.
The only place the government can use that water is on the property that sold it to them. Perhaps the government are going to become cotton growers, as it will do bugger all for the environment downstream.
A good deal if you can get it and a bit like me selling you a tractor and telling you that you can only drive it on my property.
Satellite imagery shows the levee banks that capture that water have not been altered to allow the water to flow further down the floodplain or into the river.
So, there is not even a pretense that the water can physically flow outside the farm. That might be because the government has given up pretending that water will ever go to the environment and even if it could escape that farm, the next farm downstream is Cubbie Station.
So I am sure the Chinese part owners would appreciate Australian taxpayer largess, as they can legally capture, store and use the government’s new $80m worth of water.
Alarm bells should be ringing in the Prime Minister’s office at this gross mismanagement of water purchases and buying overland flow water when they can buy more reliable water for $1500MG at half the cost.
So back to our tractor deal, being big hearted I now let you drive your tractor out my gate, but as soon as you do, the neighbour legally owns your tractor you paid 25 per cent over the odds and 90pc more than a tractor you could take home.
So, if Senator Canavon thinks the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and water purchases is not smelly, I hope he gives me a call, because I will gladly sell all my tractors under these conditions and retire up the Gold Coast.
- Mal Peters