‘Watergate’ water “not value for money” even at half price according to Department

Research released by The Australia Institute today reveals new information on the Commonwealth’s controversial purchase of water rights in the Condamine Balonne valley for $80 million in 2017.

The Government has refused to release independent valuations of the water rights, despite requests from the Senate, with newly released documents showing similar deals had been repeatedly rejected by water agencies because they were ‘not value for money’.

“Not only did the government pay more than the original price, it paid almost double the price that the same company had offered for the same water multiple times over a decade,” said Maryanne Slattery, Senior Water Researcher at The Australia Institute.

“Released documents show that Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA), had offered similar water deals multiple times since 2008/09, but were rejected because they were ‘not value for money’.

“After a year of questions, taxpayers are no closer to understanding why the government suddenly decided to pay exorbitant prices for this water of dubious value.

The new documents mention Growth Farms Australia, a company linked to Energy Minister Angus Taylor, as having been involved in the negotiations for the water sale. The company says it was not involved and puts the mention down to an error by government entities.

“The opacity around this purchase shows that we need a federal ICAC or a Royal Commission into the management of water resources in the Murray Darling Basin,” said Ms Slattery.

The full report, Rough Estimates, by Rod Campbell and Maryanne Slattery is available here.

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