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In a new options paper released today, the Victorian irrigation community is being asked to consider how the current water markets can be made more transparent.

Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, announced in May 2019 that the Victorian Government would look at the options and benefits of a completely transparent water trading system.

This follows continued high water prices and concern from the community about the level of foreign ownership when it comes to Victorian water.

While a transparent market will not bring down water prices, it will provide confidence that the water markets are working for irrigators and not being distorted.

To ensure all benefits and impacts are being considered, an options paper has been developed in consultation with farmers and other water market participants – reflecting the range of views held by the community.

The paper shows that better access to clear and easily understood information improves market function. It also considers what full market transparency means for water markets and commercial privacy.

The proposed options address the main concerns raised in targeted community consultation and could be introduced individually, or as a combination.

The options are:

  • Full market transparency – including names, addresses and trade details
  • Publish information only on large water market participants or high-volume traders
  • Improve real-time information on price and amount of water available

State-wide consultation on the options paper will run until 8 November 2019 to get feedback on the proposed reforms, with the minister to decide on a way forward by the end of the year.

The review complements the current inquiry into water markets by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is exploring options to improve the operations, transparency, regulation, competitiveness and efficiency of Murray Darling Basin water markets.

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