Waterfind’s Stuart Peevor told the Shepparton Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Research Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Regional Outlook conference when the CEWH moved water around, it could trigger immediate trade restrictions.
“When those intervalley trade limits are committed or overcommitted, it can take a lot of time for those trades to re-open,” Mr Peevor said.
“You will find, literally, you will wake up in the morning and you will see the limit has been hit.”
But CEWH Jody Swirepik has rejected the claim.
“The CEWH has never conducted allocation trades or transfers that have triggered the close of intervalley trade limits,” Ms Swirepik said.
“All transfers and trades of water that may impact on IVTs are undertaken with consideration of the available IVT capacity, to ensure other market participants have equal access to those trade opportunities.”
She said Waterfind, Mr Peevor’s employer, had previously contacted the CEWH, claiming transfers of Commonwealth environmental water between catchments had adversely affected trading limits.
“In every instance, these transfers did not involve Commonwealth environmental water and this was water being transferred by other water users,” she said.
“If Waterfind, or Mr Peevor, have specific examples of transfers by the CEWH that they believe have had negative third-party impacts, we recommend that these be provided to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to further investigate if the Commonwealth has acted in an anti-competitive manner.”
H2OX business development manager Craig Feuerherdt said the CEWH was free to move its water, however it chose.
“There is nothing adverse about that,” Mr Feuerherdt said.
“I don’t think the CEWH has ever purposely done that, it’s not in their best interest to do so.”
And Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia president Jeremy Morton, Moulamein, said he was aware of only one situation when that had occurred - and that resulted in an opening, rather than closing, of a trade.
Mr Morton agreed with Mr Peevor’s claims, at the ABARES seminar, a National Water Register was required.
“A lot of activity in the market is quite opaque. While you can go and dig and find out, it’s not easy to discover who is trading water, where and when,” he said.
“A national register is really a register of trades, a single point where you can get a full understanding of the market depth.”
The CEWH did agree there needed to be more clarity on the effect of tagged entitlement trades, within the Murray, Goulburn and Murrumbidgee valleys.
A ‘tagged’ water access entitlement is registered in one place, but allows the allocation to be extracted from somewhere else. Tagging is a process for altering – subject to certain conditions – the location of the extraction of water, allocated to that water access entitlement.
It’s an alternative to trading water allocations between trading zones or Basin states.
The CEWH said tagged entitlement trades had resulted in negative third-party impacts on other market participants, including the Commonwealth and other water holders.
“This is an issue that requires urgent attention from water market regulators.”