The Government’s water buyback program tender documents, with the misnomer “strategic
purchasing of 44.3GL/y of water rights”, have been released and they raise some significant
NIC CEO Isaac Jeffrey said: “The only thing ‘strategic’ about this ‘strategic purchasing of
44.3GL/y of water rights’ is the name. It is an open tender – throwing a huge net over whole
catchments to see what they can get with no thought given to the utility or consequences of
their actions. You would think they would have learnt lessons from the 2008-10 buybacks – yet
here we go again.
“The tender documents say they will be evaluated between May and July, and
acceptances will be made between July and August this year. This is in stark contrast to a
line further into the documents revealing the Government could choose to accept them up
to 19 May 2024.
“When the tenders are legally binding and irrevocable offers, this extended acceptance
period may mean water holders are tied up for 12 months and won’t likely be able to
withdraw the offer or change any details. It likely means they can’t sell the water to other
buyers, even if their circumstances change.
“If the Government moves ahead with further buybacks and pushes up the price of water or
we enter a significant dry period, people with an open offer could be much worse off. I
encourage anyone thinking about engaging in this process to get legal and finance advice
about what it actually means for your business.
“The tender documents reveal this isn’t a tender for 44 gigalitres, even though that’s what it
says in the title. The documents show the Government is looking for long-term average
annual yield (LTAAY). In the Murray, on paper they are looking for 10 gigalitres, but what they
may actually buyback is around 18 gigalitres to get to the LTAAY. The Government should be
honest about the real volumes they are buying back, let alone what outcomes they are
hoping to achieve with those volumes.
“This whole process has been poorly managed from the start. Zero consultation prior to the
announcement, followed by invite only information sessions with farcical notice periods and
now tender documents which reveal offers could lock people in for over 12 months and
have misleading numbers because of the LTAAY.
“With an interrelated system and market, buybacks will hurt everyone as they force up the
price of water and that will flow on to higher costs at the checkouts for all Australians.”
Ends. Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890 firstname.lastname@example.org