$2m for more phantom water

The Coalition appears to have struck another costly water deal to save the Ramsar-listed Narran Lakes wetlands, this time for ~$2 million. See here for the Guardian story).

Three years ago the Government paid $80 million for the same purpose. See here

That transaction raised many questions. Why there was no proper tender process for the purchase of water allocation? Why were other offers of water supply rejected?

Barnaby Joyce said “the opportunity was exceptional” first time around so why a further $2m and why pay $2,745 per megalitre?

Senior water researcher at the Australia Institute, Maryanne Slattery, said

The average price paid for water licences in the Lower Balonne between 2011/12 and 2016/17 was $1,500 per megalitre and the maximum paid in that period was $2,200 for two trades.”

This is not about actual water, it is about the right to pump water if and when the water actually flows, in the form of overland flows (not water in dams and rivers). Although the $80 million was paid in 2017, no water has actually been taken or supplied to the Narran Lakes wetlands due to the ongoing drought. 

$80 million dollars for zero water does seem like an “exceptional opportunity” for the seller if not the wetlands. Once again, best practice, sound advice and proper process have been ignored.

Rick Baek, Democrats campaigner, Qld

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