MDBA welcomes ACCC’s early findings in water markets inquiry

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority welcomes the release of the interim report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on its landmark inquiry into water markets in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Executive Director of Basin Plan Regulation, Tim Goodes, said the MDBA will thoroughly consider the issues identified in the report and looked forward to working with the ACCC and state governments to improve Basin water markets.

“This inquiry is the first of its kind in the Murray-Darling Basin, and the ACCC’s interim findings deserve the full and considered attention of water managers, market regulators and participants in water trade more generally,” Mr Goodes said.

“It is clear that efforts to increase transparency and improve the regulation of water trading in the Basin need to keep pace with the market’s increasing sophistication.

“The water market in the Basin is worth $1.5 billion and over the past 10 years it has become an incredibly important way for farm enterprises to manage their business. As trade activity grows, we need to ensure market processes within and across state jurisdictions are transparent and open, as required by the Basin Plan.

“We will be taking a close look at the range of options proposed by the ACCC as far as they effect the Basin Plan and river management. Of particular interest will be ideas that could lead to better governance of trade in the Basin.

“The MDBA doesn’t run the market or manage the market but, as regulator of the Basin Plan water trading rules, we welcome moves to build robust processes that can support a strong and transparent water market.

“The MDBA Office of Compliance is pleased the ACCC report reiterates the findings of our 2019 audit that reviewed how state governments collect, validate, record and report on the price paid for water when it’s traded. It’s clear that state governments and market participants have more work to do and progress has not been as fast as we would have liked, but we will continue to work with state governments to achieve compliance with Basin Plan requirements.”

The MDBA has been pleased to contribute to the ACCC’s inquiry to date and will continue to support the inquiry in the coming months.

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