TAMWORTH MP Kevin Anderson has defended his record on standing up for Peel Valley irrigators.
It comes in response to a letter from local farmer Laurie Pengilly, who said Mr Anderson had never mentioned the plight of Peel Valley farmers in parliament, even though they are forced to pay the highest water prices in the state.
However, Mr Anderson said he had been fighting to drive down the price of bulk water since 2011.
“I am not sure if Mr Pengilly remembers but he has been part of the many meetings I have been in to try and find a solution,” Mr Anderson said.
“I have facilitated meetings with the irrigators, including with the past three Primary Industries Ministers and various departments, as well as the Land and Water Commissioner.
“I also joined the irrigators on a bus to Narrabri to fight for them, made submissions to IPART and the ACCC as well as supporting the latest option which was agreed to by the irrigators which involves changing the water usage and service charges.”
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) recently handed down a draft determination for future water prices, which would see Peel Valley irrigators pay $54.97 per megalitre.
That’s more than three times what farmers in the neighbouring Namoi Valley would pay, at $18.12 a megalitre.
Mr Anderson said he would again make a submission to IPART and was on record “highlighting to them that their decision is crippling the irrigation industry”.
“I will continue to fight hard for our fair share and for equitable water pricing and I will not give up on this very important issue,” Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson said there were a number of suggestions to drive down the price of bulk water in the region, including merging it with the Namoi Valley and pushing postage stamp water pricing across the state.
The potential upgrade of Dungowan dam would also help.
“Work still has to be done on this and I will be arranging further meetings to discuss the options. We need cooperation at all levels,” Mr Anderson said.
Letter from Tamworth Irrigator
Kevin Anderson MP has been listed in Hansard as having made 356 speeches and responses to the NSW parliament since his inaugural speech on the 12th May 2011, when as a matter of interest the Peel's usage charge was $28.29 per ML.
Despite covering a wide range of topics he has not once I repeat not once raised the issue of the Peel Valleys excessive bulk water prices.
Kevin is and has been made well aware by the Peel Valley Water Users Association, Tamworth Regional Council and many other personal representations that the Peel’s water usage charges are unsustainable and unbelievably high and under his reign as our Parliamentarian the usage charge for 2016/17 is now $58.19ML.
No other Murray Darling Basin Valley has charges that even come close to this exorbitant NSW government monopoly water charge. IPART's draft usage charge s for 2017/18per ML are listed below
Why has Kevin Anderson Member for Tamworth been so silent?
On the basis of the above prices, if a loaf of bread sold for a $1.90 in Coles or Woolies in Albury, the same loaf of bread would cost $52.22 in Tamworth.
Would the people of Tamworth be eating bread at this price – no because they would eat something else. Will the irrigators of the Peel be using water at the above price – Yes or no? Then either way they face the prospect of financial ruin.
We expect our politicians to stand up for their constituents, not just stand idly by and watch the local irrigation industry fall over and take with them the business houses of Tamworth and surrounds which supply goods and services to the irrigation community.
Kevin Anderson, The Nationals Member for Tamworth can and must do better and needs to do so soon, as IPART, if it is not convinced to change its draft determination will be handing down a death sentence to the irrigators of the Peel Valley on the 13th June 2017.
In closing, I would like to thank the NDL and its readers for giving me the opportunity to share my concerns.
Laurie Pengelly, Peel Valley Irrigator