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MEDIA RELEASE      23 DECEMBER 2013      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

Submissions on Water Reform legislation due 31 December 2013

Submissions to the Department of Water on proposed Water Resource Management legislation must be made by Tuesday 31 December. The Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group are assisting water users by providing a template submission which is available for download at their web site www.waterreform.net

The proposed changes to legislation will affect hundreds of private farm dams used for agriculture in the Manjimup and Pemberton areas.

Convener of the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said it was vital agricultural water users make submissions as the cost of apathy could be high.

The template submission requests an increase in the allocation of water to agriculture to prevent the introduction of costly water markets and associated ‘red tape’.

The Landowners submission requests the Warren Donnelly Surface Water Allocation Plan be revised to provide 60% of water for agriculture and other uses and 40% for the environment. At present 60% of water is for the environment and only 40% for agriculture.

Mr Bartholomaeus said the increase in water allocations to 60% of stream flows would provide sufficient water for growth of agriculture and maintenance of property values.

“There would then be no justification for imposing initial purchase of water allocations from the State by auction and tender, restrictive consumptive pools requiring purchase of water from other licence holders, separation of water licence from land title with uncertain outcomes, and mandatory metering, all of which are proposed by the Department of Water. 

“These and many other provisions require detailed consideration by water users affected in the ‘food bowl of the South West.

“With controversial legislation, the ‘devil is in the detail’; thus it is vital the Minister for Water issue a draft ‘Green Bill’ for public comment,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418102932


MEDIA RELEASE      23 MAY 2012      WWW.WATERTAXGRAB.COM  

STATE BUDGET $5.8 MILLON WATER TAX GRAB FROM FARM DAMS AND BORES

Farmers in the South West say the State Budget shows they will be charged for water in private dams and bores after the State Election. They say $5.8 million in new annual charges applying to farm dams and bores proposed by the Minister for Water have been held until after the State Election to protect regional Government members from the fury of farming families. The farmers have asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food to protect their interests with the same opposing arguments he used in 2007 when the Labor State Government proposed $5.8 million in charges for water from dams and bores. 

In February 2011 the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) provided a report to the State Government on their ‘Inquiry into Water Resource Management and Planning Charges’, which is yet to be responded to by the State Government. During the course of the ERA Inquiry, annual water resource management and planning charges of $1,670 were proposed for farm dams and bores. 

Convener of the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the $5.8 million in water resource management and planning charges stated on page 855 of the Budget Papers were not mentioned in the State Government’s Budget publicity spin. 

“Minister for Agriculture and Food Terry Redman was asked about the new $5.8 million in charges at a State Budget briefing held in Manjimup last Friday and pleaded ignorance. 

“We requested Mr Redman take action to ensure farming families are not unfairly served with invoices for water from July next year and we have followed that up with a letter to him. 

“Mr Redman’s new electorate of Warren-Blackwood adds the grape growers of Margaret River and apple growers of Donnybrook to the truffle growers of Manjimup and potato growers of Pemberton. 

“These food and wine producers use water from their private dams and bores and new charges will add to cost of production for no material benefit and reduce market competitiveness.  

“Hundreds of farming families in Warren-Blackwood could receive nasty invoices in their post office boxes from July next year due to this post-election water tax grab,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said in 2007 when the Labor State Government proposed $5.8 million in charges for water Mr Redman as Nationals spokesperson for Agriculture and Water Resources said the charges could put farmers out of business and any fees must also apply to 165,000 bores in Perth. The enabling regulations were twice disallowed by the State Parliament because they were unfair to farming families. 

“We have asked Mr Redman to argue this in Cabinet now that the Minister for Water is attempting a $5.8 million water tax grab for his bloated Department of Water. 

“The water resource management plans the Department of Water produce are not worth the paper they are written on because they have not been prepared as statutory plans in accordance with the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act and thus have no legal standing. 

“The ERA said any water resource management and planning charges should only apply to statutory plans prepared in accordance with legislation; however, none of the plans in WA are statutory plans. 

“The Minister for Water has ignored the planning provisions of the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act in his clumsy water tax grab,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Mr Bartholomaeus said the Liberals and Nationals should expect to lose votes in the State Election because of this water tax grab affecting thousands of farmers throughout WA.

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, contact@watertaxgrab.com


MEDIA RELEASE      31 MARCH 2011      WWW.WATERTAXGRAB.COM

FARMERS ESCAPE WATER CHARGES BECAUSE GOVERNMENT HAS NOT COMPLIED WITH WATER RESOURCE PLANNING LEGISLATION

Farmers in the South West have escaped annual $1,670 charges for dams and bores because the State Government has failed to appoint a Water Resources Council required as part of water planning processes. At the end of a two year inquiry by the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) into the proposed charges the Department of Water admitted it had received legal advice that $9.8 million in charges could not be raised. The farmers say the State Government has ignored legislation for water resource planning in their attempt at a water tax grab.

The failure to use planning legislation applies to many vital water resources including at Gnangara, Yarragadee in the South West, and the Ord River, and has prevented collection of $9.8 million in water resource management charges from 13,796 water licence holders.

Convenor of the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said self-supply water users based on farm dams had become increasingly concerned the State Government was ignoring legislation for water resource planning in their pursuit of a water tax grab. This was confirmed by a Department of Water submission to the ERA which said the Department had received legal advice that charges for water planning services couldn’t be applied because the Departments planning process didn’t meet all criteria required under legislation.

In a recent letter to Minister for Water, Bill Marmion, water licence holders associated with farm dams in the Manjimup and Pemberton area said they won’t accept an ad hoc water allocation plan for the Warren and Donnelly River catchments that hasn’t been prepared in accordance with the specific provisions for planning in the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act, and they rejected proposed annual $1,670 charges for planning. They met with the Minister today and said they will only accept a plan prepared in accordance with legislation.

Mr Bartholomaeus said they supported the ERA recommendations that any initial plans be publicly funded, be prepared in accordance with legislation and any charges be set in consultation with licence holders in the plan area. He said that because none of the current plans are statutory, charges could be ten years away.

“The State Parliament enacted specific provisions for plans for management of water resources in 2000 to protect public and private interests; however Ministers and their agencies responsible for administering the legislation have ignored the specific provisions and conducted ad hoc planning which is open to legal challenge and can’t be subject to $9.8 million in charges being considered by the ERA and Treasurer.

“It appears that none of the water resource management plans issued in Western Australia since the relevant 2000 amendments to the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act have been prepared in accordance with the legislation.

“A Water Resources Council for the State which was specified in the planning legislation in 2007 has never been appointed. The Barnett Government has simply ignored that decision of State Parliament.

“Defective plans include for water resource management of underground water at Gnangara, at the Ord River, and in the South West for the Yarragadee aquifer, Margaret River and the Warren and Donnelly Rivers.

The ad hoc non-statutory planning process being used by the Department of Water meets none of the applicable specific planning provisions set out in the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act.

If ad hoc processes were used for land use planning, rather than the applicable provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2005 and the Local Government Act 1995, there would be a public uproar. Planning for water use and management is no less important,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, contact@watertaxgrab.com


MEDIA RELEASE      8 NOVEMBER 2010      WWW.WATERTAXGRAB.COM  

$29 MILLON WATER TAX GRAB HITS FARMERS BUT SPARES PERTH GARDEN BORES 

Farmers in the South West say proposals for $29.2 million in fees and charges for water will be particularly unfair to food and wine producers who self-supply water from their own dams and bores. They say the proposals by the Economic Regulation Authority are irrational, favour big water users, and have exempted the huge amount of water used by garden bores in Perth that is causing environmental damage. 

The Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) has issued a report on an ‘Inquiry into Water Resource Management and Planning Charges’; the report recommends $29.2 million in water licence fees and water resource management and planning charges. The Inquiry follows twice disallowance of $5.8 million in water licence fees in State Parliament in 2007 and 2008. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the proposed $29.2 million in fees and charges were now five times the $5.8 million amount rejected by State Parliament in 2007 and 2008, and demonstrated how out of touch with reality the ERA is.  

“The ERA report is running a year late and yet the ERA claim to be gurus on efficiency, and the report is full of errors and omissions, including inability to add two numbers correctly,” he said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the majority of vegetables, fruit and wine produced in WA are based on private dams and bores, regarded as water ‘self-supply’, and these are hit hardest by the proposed fees and charges. 

“Many self-supply water users will pay annual water resource management and planning charges of $1,670 for each licence, and renewal fees of $1,056 for what is usually a ‘rubber stamping’ process. Applying for a new licence for a dam or bore will cost between $2,101 and $3,350. 

“The ERA gives examples of a small winery using 11 megalitres of water being subject to an annual charge of $1,669, yet a large winery using 360 megalitres and an irrigator using 55,000 megalitres are charged the same $1,669 in water resource management and planning charges. 

“Again, the perverse proposals for fees and charges favour large volume licences at the expense of small volume licences. This unfairness was a main reason for twice disallowance by State Parliament of the previous water licence fees in 2007 and 2008. 

“We estimate the annual water resource management and planning charges in the Manjimup and Pemberton area could be $800,000 for the 33,000 megalitres of water in private dams, yet at Harvey it appears they may only pay $5,010 for 136,000 megalitres and at the Ord just $1,670 for 335,000 megalitres, Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the ERA had changed their mind on fees and charges for the 177,000 garden bores in Perth using 120,000 megalitres of water, saying the bores reduce the demand for piped scheme water and the water from bores would generally not be used otherwise. 

“The same rationale can be applied to self-supply water users in agriculture with their own dams and bores; they don’t demand water piped from Government irrigation dams at Harvey and the Ord, and the water in private dams would otherwise flow into the ocean and not be used. 

“The 177,000 garden bores in Perth are destroying the urban wetlands and now the Black Swans and other water birds take refuge on the farm dams in the South-West that are targeted for a water tax grab,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

“The Premier and Treasurer should abandon the irrational ERA inquiry that is causing anxiety amongst farming families,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, contact@watertaxgrab.com

MEDIA RELEASE      8 DECEMBER 2009      WWW.WATERTAXGRAB.COM   

FARMERS WELCOME DELAY IN INQUIRY INTO WATER FEES AND CHARGES
BUT ARE WARY OF AN UNJUSTIFIED WATER TAX GRAB  

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton who successfully opposed harsh water licence fees disallowed by State Parliament in 2007 and 2008 say their past campaign has been vindicated by the Economic Regulation Authority which has found the Department of Water has insufficient information on costs of services to justify proposals for fees and charges. The farmers also say they won’t be a soft target for a water tax grab related to farm dams and bores if garden bore users in Perth don’t pay licence fees.  

An Economic Regulation Authority inquiry into water resource management and planning charges due to report to State Treasurer Troy Buswell by 2 January 2010 has now been delayed until 29 October 2010, because of a lack of information on recording of costs by the Department of Water and the assumptions used in the water licence fees models it proposes, required to be assessed by the Authority.  

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said it was evident in the previous attempt at a water tax grab in 2007 and 2008 that the fee structures were irrational and particularly unfair to farming families, and recognising this the State Parliament twice disallowed the enabling regulations. 

Mr Bartholomaeus, who is a former CEO in the State public service, said perpetual inquiries into cost recovery for water licensing, management and planning services were like seemingly endless series of the soapies ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Blue Hills’, but are consuming public funds paid to external consultants. 

“We have consistently submitted to various inquiries that water is vital to all communities and most economic activity in regional WA, and given that in general water is owned by the Crown, the State Government should fund water resource management and planning from the general operating revenue derived from State and Commonwealth taxes we pay. 

“We are prepared to pay an hourly rate for service based fee for assessment of new water licence applications, and thereafter a licence administration fee equivalent to the benchmark drivers licence fee which is either $36.60 annually or $116 for five years in advance, and other reasonable fees for specific services such as transfer of licences. 

“But charges for the overall management and planning of the State’s water resources will be too difficult to rationally and fairly apply to the wide range of water users and resources, and the State Government should recognise this and fund the Department of Water for that role from general operating revenue. 

“The proposed water resource management and planning charges should not become a simplistic water tax grab hitting agriculture and regional WA the hardest,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said it was an amusing aspect of the water tax grab soapie serial that the Economic Regulation Authority has recommended the 150,000 garden bores in Perth also be subject to fees and charges, but he doubted Parliamentarians in Perth would support it. 

“The Department of Water has said in response that the cost of collecting a perhaps $36.60 fee from 150,000 garden bore owners would outweigh benefits. But elsewhere in Government the Minister for Fisheries plans to collect a controversial $30 annual Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence fee from about 150,000 fishers, which would be much more difficult than collecting from persons at fixed locations in the suburbs of Perth owning bores. 

“The National Party must stick to its policy to include the 150,000 garden bores in Perth in any water licence fees and management charges system that applies to farmers in regional WA,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, neil@watertaxgrab.com


MEDIA RELEASE      6 JUNE 2009      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

FARMERS ACCUSE STATE GOVERNMENT OF DUPLICITY IN PLANNING NEW FEES AND CHARGES FOR WATER TO RECOVER HANDOUTS THROUGH ROYALTIES FOR REGIONS 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton who successfully opposed harsh water licence fees under the State Labor Government say the Liberal-National Government plans to apply water licence fees and water resource management charges which could exceed the amount regions are receiving through the Royalties for Regions grants program. They estimate that in the Shire of Manjimup alone the $1.5 million Manjimup received under Royalties for Regions could be exceeded by $2 million in new water fees and charges imposed on farming families they say are the backbone of the regional economy.   

Treasurer, Troy Buswell and Minister for Water, Dr Graham Jacobs have announced an ‘Inquiry into Water Resource Management and Planning Charges’ to be conducted by the Economic Regulation Authority; the inquiry covers both water licence fees and water resource management charges, submissions are required by 12 June 2009. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said it was classic funding handout and recovery duplicity, where Government gives with one hand and takes with the other.  He says the pattern was likely to be repeated throughout regional WA wherever water self-supply farmers depended on their dams and bores for water for agriculture. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the 2007-2008 push on water licence fees by the Labor Government would have cost surface water licence holders in the Shire of Manjimup $257,000 a year if the regulations hadn’t been disallowed by Parliament. He says proposed ‘Water Resource Management and Planning Charges’ could be an additional three times that amount based on the Liberal-National Government recovering 50% of the Department of Water $47 million cost for the ‘Water Use Allocation and Optimisation’ Program in the 2009-2010 budget. Combining water licence fees ($250,000) and water resource management charges ($750,000), water licence holders in the Manjimup and Pemberton area would pay $1 million a year in new fees and charges to the Department of Water. Mr Bartholomaeus said this estimate is based on the present 380 surface water licences for in-stream dams, whereas the pending Water Resources Management Bill proposes to extend licensing to dams capturing springs and runoff, which could double the number of dams requiring licences in the Warren and Donnelly River catchments to 800 and push new fees and charges to $2 million a year. 

“Our estimate of a $2 million tax slug for new water fees and charges in the Shire of Manjimup is conservative because it doesn’t include mandatory water metering charges, and fees and charges for water use by tree plantations which are included in the pending Water Resources Management Bill. 

“We have written to the Minister for Water, Dr Graham Jacobs, and Treasurer Troy Buswell, asking the inquiry be halted until the full scope of fees and charges is determined in pending legislation and debated by Parliament, but they appear to be avoiding answering the questions now that will reveal the total slug of the new fees and charges they plan to impose on farmers throughout regional WA. 

“Ironically, while it appears funding handouts through the National Party’s Royalties for Regions program will be clawed back through new water fees and charges applying to farmers, the 150,000 garden bores in Perth unsustainably using 120 gigalitres of water won’t be subject to attention by the Liberal Party. 

“The National Party must stick to its policy to include the 150,000 garden bores in Perth in any water licence fees and charges system that applies to farmers in regional WA,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      13 MAY 2009      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

FARMERS CALL FOR ANSWERS ON SCOPE OF PROPOSED WATER FEES AND CHARGES TO APPLY TO THOUSANDS OF FAMILY FARMS THROUGHOUT WESTERN AUSTRALIA 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton who successfully opposed harsh water licence fees under the State Labor Government are disappointed and angry the Liberal-National Government is moving through an inquiry to apply both water licence fees and water resource management charges. They want answers to the scope of application of the fees and charges to family farms and the inquiry halted until new legislation to define the scope of regulation of water from dams and bores, and used by plantations, is passed by Parliament. 

Treasurer, Troy Buswell and Minister for Water, Dr Graham Jacobs have announced an ‘Inquiry into Water Resource Management and Planning Charges’ to be conducted by the Economic Regulation Authority; the inquiry covers both water licence fees and water resource management charges. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said it is obvious the inquiry timelines point towards a plan by the State Government to introduce these new fees and charges in the 2010-2011 budget. 

“In a rush to hit farming families with new fees and charges, the Government is putting a tax cart before a legislation horse, and that must go nowhere. 

“We and others argued during the previous controversy over water licence fees that there should be no introduction of fees or charges until the antiquated Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 is replaced by the Water Resources Management Bill, detail for which the Department of Water says was submitted in September 2008 for drafting by Parliamentary Counsel. 

“The Terms of Reference for the inquiry provided by the Treasurer to the Economic Regulation Authority make no mention of the Water Resources Management Bill which could massively increase the number of farms throughout WA that will be required to pay fees and charges and the amount they pay. 

“We have written to the Minister for Water seeking vital information and we will also be asking the National Party to ensure garden bores in Perth are covered by the Water Resources Management Bill and subject to any fees and charges applied to farms,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the questions to the Minister for Water include:

·         Will the Water Resources Management Bill extend licensing from in-stream dams to include dams capturing springs and overland flow or runoff?

·         Will the Bill include a requirement for a water licence for water accessed by tree plantations?

·         Will the requirement for a water licence for tree plantations apply to both existing and new tree plantations if the same approach is to apply to both existing and new dams on springs and capturing runoff?

·         Will the Bill extend water licensing statewide beyond the proclaimed Manjimup and Pemberton areas to include Bridgetown, Nannup, Frankland, Boyup Brook, Denmark, Mount Barker, Albany, Williams and many other farming areas that are not proclaimed areas?  

Mr Bartholomaeus said any new water licence fees and charges had to be applied equitably or not at all, and it was improper of the State Government to conduct the Inquiry based on 1914 legislation which doesn’t cover all forms of dams, and tree plantations which use more water than orchards, and doesn’t apply to all farms in WA. 

“There are also compelling equity considerations that require the 150,000 garden bores in Perth using 120 gigalitres of water to be included in any water licence fees and charges system applied to food producers on farms. 

“If farmers are being pushed to pay for water resource management and planning charges then the owners of the garden bores in Perth should pay for the management of the depleted Gnangara mound. 

“The National Party when in opposition said the garden bores in Perth should be subject to licence fees, so we expect the Nationals to ensure the garden bores are included in the scope of the Water Resources Management Bill.

 “Given the scope of application of proposed water fees and charges can’t be determined at present, the State Government must halt the untimely and ill conceived inquiry by the Economic Regulation Authority and not re-visit fees and charges until there is a Water Resources Management Act,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners had previously supported a reasonable water licence application fee to reflect time required to assess new licences and thereafter a licence database administration fee equivalent to that for a driver’s licence fee. He said the proposed water resource management and planning charges weren’t acceptable and that such costs of public service should be met by general revenue derived from GST and other taxes paid by farming families. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      1 MAY 2009      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

MINISTER FOR WATER MEETS IN MANJIMUP WITH USERS OF WATER FROM THE WARREN AND DONNELLY CATCHMENTS 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton who successfully opposed harsh water licence fees met with the Minister for Water, Dr Graham Jacobs, in Manjimup this week to discuss new limits on water allocations for private dams and they say the meeting was productive and should lead to more water being made available for agriculture while also ensuring water for the environment.  

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said changes arising from the National Water Initiative implemented by the Department of Water in mid 2008 meant that 89% of the winter flow of streams was allocated to the environment and only 11% was available to agriculture and other uses.  

“The dramatic effect of this new policy biased towards water for the environment meant the Upper Lefroy became 493% overallocated, Smithbrook 199% overallocated, Eastbrook 171% overallocated, Wilgarup 163% overallocated and Manjimup Brook/Yanmah-Dixvale 212% overallocated. 

The effect of this changed approach to allocations was to stop new dams required for growth of agriculture in some priority agriculture area catchments and limit growth in other catchments.   

“The only option being presented by the Department of Water was water trading which has proved non-commercial and thus some major new developments were stopped because of the changed policy,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners wrote to the Minister for Water in November 2008 objecting to the limits on new dams and the Minister in reply said he would meet in Manjimup with representatives of water users and a meeting was held this week. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said water users discussed with the Minister a new study of Lefroy Brook published by the Department of Water which has identified the environment may be protected with 60% of yearly flow with the potential to allocate 40% of yearly flow to other uses, including agriculture. 

“If the 60/40 water balance is adopted as a basis to go forward, the crisis caused in mid 2008 would be overcome and there would be potential to grant additional surface water licences for ‘in-stream’ dams in the catchments that are also priority agriculture areas. 

“Significantly, the Lefroy Brook study doesn’t distinguish ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ Lefroy which then opens the potential to identify which aspects of a streams length are priority for protection of stream environs, particularly in State Forest and other reserves, while cleared tributaries could be approached with the priority being security of water for existing and new users,” he said.   

Mr Bartholomaeus said that at the meeting and in a letter they had requested the Minister encourage the Department of Water to extend the reasonable 60/40 water balance approach to other streams in the Warren and Donnelly River catchments in advance of the 2009-2010 summer period for constructing dams, to maintain the exciting growth of agriculture in the area that is the ‘food bowl of the South West’. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net


MEDIA RELEASE      11 NOVEMBER 2008      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

CALL FOR MINISTER TO INTERVENE ON WATER ALLOCATIONS THREATENING AGRICULTURE IN MANJIMUP AND PEMBERTON 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton who successfully opposed harsh water licence fees have shifted attention to new restrictions on water allocations for private dams and have requested the Minister for Water review the new allocation limits which they say are biased towards water for the environment to the detriment of water for agriculture, in what is regarded as the ‘food bowl of the south west’.  

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said prior to mid-2008, the Department of Water had given landowners and agribusinesses assurances that surface water was not overallocated, and that the system for determining allocations was reliable. However, the Department is now advising applicants for surface water licences they will not receive allocations from major catchments which have potential to support growth in agriculture. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the changes arising from the National Water Initiative are based on a consultants study of the south west published in August 2008, and mean that 89% of the winter flow of streams is allocated to the environment and only 11% is available to agriculture and other uses.  

“The biased academic study says of the 58 gigalitre flow in Lefroy Brook only 6 gigalitres should be available for agriculture; which means over 50 gigalitres of fresh water will flow into the Southern Ocean during winter and spring that could otherwise be captured and used for growth of agriculture. 

“The dramatic effect of this new policy biased towards water for the environment means the Upper Lefroy is 493% overallocated, Smithbrook is 199% overallocated, Eastbrook is 171% overallocated, Wilgarup 163% overallocated and Manjimup Brook/Yanmah-Dixvale is 212% overallocated. 

The effect of this changed approach to allocations is to stop growth of agriculture in some priority agriculture area catchments and limit growth in other catchments. Further, the new 89% bias of water allocation from local streams towards the environment, at the expense of agriculture, is so extreme that existing surface water licence holders have no margin for comfort that their allocations are secure. It could strangle local agriculture as the Department of Water burden all of us with costly fees, charges and regulations, including separation of Surface Water Licences from land titles, to enable their prejudice towards ‘water trading’.   

“While this new policy on water for the environment is being imposed on Manjimup and Pemberton, the rivers and streams in the Darling Ranges have been dammed with no consideration for water for the environment; for example 98% of the flow of the Canning River is dammed and the Harvey River below the Harvey dam has been turned into a drain,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners supported protecting local stream environments, especially maintaining summer flows, but the policy needed to be fair throughout WA. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group has written to Dr Graham Jacobs, Minister for Water claiming the Department of Water did not consult with agribusiness before introducing the radical changes to water allocations and are not offering practical solutions for agriculture. They have asked the Minister for Water to intervene and to visit Manjimup to meet with concerned agribusinesses and see productive use of water from private dams. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net


MEDIA RELEASE      14 APRIL 2008       WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

DISALLOWANCE OF WATER LICENCE FEES WELCOMED 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton opposing new water licence fees have welcomed disallowance by the Legislative Council of the $100 to $1600 fees being imposed on farmers to use water from their own dams and bores, and warned that any further attempt to introduce fees in 2008 will be vigorously opposed.  

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have run a campaign against new annual water licence fees, arguing the fee should have a rational basis and be fairly applied to all water users throughout WA. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said farmers congratulated the Liberals, Nationals and independent Shelley Archer MLC for voting to disallow the Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations (No. 3) 2007. 

“There should have been no further attempt to introduce water licence fees after the first unfair fees were disallowed in November 2007; the second set of fees were also fatally flawed and this reckless action by the Government has rightfully been rejected by the Parliament. 

“The Department of Water must promptly refund hundreds of water licence holders who have already been served invoices and paid the harsh fees,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said there should be no move to introduce water licence fees until the pending Water Resources Management Bill has been considered by the public and Parliament and enacted in 2008 -2009. 

“The pending Water Resources Management Bill will totally transform the previous Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914, define which water resources should be licensed throughout WA, and establish an entirely new water resource planning and management framework. 

“The Minister for Water Resources, John Kobelke should never have tried to introduce water licence fees ahead of this major legislation. 

“The fees the Minister twice introduced were irrational because they didn’t separate the cost of applications for new licences from ongoing administration of all licences, and unfair because they favoured large irrigation co-operatives, mining companies and water utilities at the expense of water self-supply farmers. 

“Fortunately, the State Parliament provides a democratic check on such bad governance. 

“Any further attempt to introduce water licence fees in 2008 will be vigorously opposed, especially because it would be ahead of the Water Resources Management Bill which has been delayed and now may not be enacted before 2009, and farmers are hostile towards the Minister and Department of Water over these two botched attempts to introduce unfair fees,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said farmers were prepared to pay rational and fair water licence fees based on a clear distinction between the cost of an application and assessment for a new dam or bore, and the subsequent cost to administer a licensing database over the 10 year duration of the licence, as for a drivers licence. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      28 FEBRUARY 2008      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

WATER LICENCE FEES SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN TO ENABLE A FAIRER SYSTEM TO BE ESTABLISHED BASED ON NEW REPORT 

Farmers in the South West have welcomed a report to the Legislative Assembly on Water Licensing and Services but say the Minister for Water Resources must withdraw the present unfair water licence fees to allow proper consideration of the report and a new system to be introduced.  

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have run a campaign against new annual water licence fees, arguing the fees should have a rational basis and be fairly applied to all water users throughout WA. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the report to the Legislative Assembly by the Economics and Industry Committee provides a basis for the Parliament and the public to contribute to a new rational water licensing system which is not driven by the National Water Initiative based in Canberra and gives more attention to the unique water resources in regional WA. 

“Too often the State Government has used the excuse that unfair and irrational water licence fees and other requirements have been driven by commitments to the National Water Initiative, but the report shows there is flexibility for rational provisions for WA. For example, that it is not necessary to fully cost recover through water licence fees for essential services to rural and other industry in WA. 

“The Committee has recognized the merit of Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners consistent view that the water licence fee should be a fixed fee as for a driver licence, to cover licence registration and administration, and that other fees should only be introduced when there are local statutory water management plans. 

“Farmers remain outraged the Minister of Water Resources, John Kobelke, reintroduced water licence fees in December 2007 a month after the initial fees were disallowed in State Parliament. 

“There should have been no further attempt by the Minister for Water Resources to introduce water licence fees until after the Legislative Assembly Economics and Industry Committee had conducted its inquiry into Water Licensing and Services, reported on today. 

“The new fees are still fundamentally flawed in their structure and too high, ranging from $100 to $1600 for water ‘self supply’ farmers with their own dams and bores, where before they were $200 to $1800. 

“For example, farmers in the Manjimup and Pemberton area using water from their own dams will pay $137,350 in licence fees for 40 gigalitres of water, while irrigation corporations at Harvey will pay $18,000 in licence fees for 153 gigalitres and at the Ord River $6,000 for 335 gigalitres of water from public dams. 

“The same favoritism of corporations with water licence fees also applies to water utilities and mining companies using huge amounts of water, at the expense of water ‘self supply’ farming families with their own dams and bores,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said his group had requested the Economics and Industry Standing Committee move disallowance of the Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations (No. 3) 2007, and he was disappointed the Committee hasn’t done that, but was pleased others in the Parliament had moved disallowance motions this week. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net  

Attached: Submission to inquiry by Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners

MEDIA RELEASE      4 JANUARY 2008      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

NEW WATER LICENCE FEES IMPACT ON MANJIMUP AND PEMBERTON 

While water licence fees have been halved for most farmers in the Manjimup and Pemberton region, farmers say they are still too high and they will continue to fight for lower fees. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus, said farmers are outraged the Minister for Water Resources, John Kobelke, reintroduced water licence fees a month after the initial fees were disallowed in State Parliament. 

“The initial water licence fees were disallowed in State Parliament on 22 November 2007, and the Minister has introduced new fees applying from 29 December 2007. 

“The new fees are still fundamentally flawed in their structure and too high, ranging from $100 to $1600 for water ‘self supply’ farmers with their own dams, where before they were $200 to $1800. 

“While fees have been halved for water licences below 100,000 Kilolitres (100 Megalitres) the $700 fee for 100,001 - 500,000 Kilolitres allocation is particularly harsh and applies to 107 of the 384 licences in the Manjimup and Pemberton region.” (See Table attached

“The estimated licence fee revenue to be raised in the Manjimup and Pemberton region has reduced from $256,550 in 2007 to $137,350 in 2008 with the new fees; but this is still far too much to be taken from our region for unjustified services. 

“The callous action by John Kobelke to reintroduce the flawed and unfair fees will strengthen the resolve of Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners to continue to fight these fees in 2008,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said farmers were prepared to pay rational and fair water licence fees based on a clear distinction between the cost of an application and assessment for a new dam, and the subsequent cost to administer a licensing database over the 10 year duration of the licence, equivalent to the cost of a drivers licence fee. That $222 dollar fee for a 10 year duration licence remains our objective, he said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net  

Attachment 

Revised Water Licence Fee Tables for Manjimup and Pemberton Region 

Class

Water entitlement Kilolitres per year

Number of Licences

Fee

2008

Expected Revenue

2008

Fee

2007

Expected Revenue

2007

 

 

 

1

1500 - 5000

9

$100

$900

$200

$1800

2

5 001 -

50 000

158

$150

$23,700

$325

$51,350

3

50 001 - 100,000

103

$250

$25,750

$600

$61,800

4

100,001 - 500,000

107

$700

$74,900

$1,200

$128,400

5

500,001 - 1,000,00

6

$1,600

$9,600

$1,800

$10,800

6

1,000,001 - 5,000,000

1

$2,500

$2,500

$2,400

$2,400

7

5,000,001 –

10,000,000

-

$4,000

-

 

$3,000

 

-

8

> 10,000,000

-

$6,000

-

Total

384

$137,350

 

$256,550

 (Note: the Number of Licences was provided by Department of Water in August 2007)


MEDIA RELEASE     3 JANUARY 2008    WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

WATER LICENCE FEES RECKLESSLY REINTRODUCED 

Farmers in the South West are outraged the State Government has reintroduced new water licence fees a month after the unpopular initial fees were disallowed in Parliament and say the Minister for Water Resources is treating a current Parliamentary inquiry into water licensing with reckless disregard.  

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have run a campaign against new annual water licence fees, arguing the fees should have a rational basis and be fairly applied to all water users throughout WA. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus, said farmers are outraged the Minister of Water Resources, John Kobelke, reintroduced water licence fees a month after the initial fees were disallowed in State Parliament. 

“The initial water licence fees were disallowed in State Parliament on 22 November 2007, and the Minister has introduced new fees applying from 29 December 2007. 

“The new fees are still fundamentally flawed in their structure and too high, ranging from $100 to $1600 for water ‘self supply’ farmers with their own dams and bores, where before they were $200 to $1800. 

“For example, farmers in the Manjimup and Pemberton area using water from their own dams will pay $137,350 in licence fees for 40 gigalitres of water, while irrigation corporations at Harvey will pay $18,000 in licence fees for 153 gigalitres and at the Ord River $6,000 for 335 gigalitres of water from public dams. 

“The same favoritism of corporations with water licence fees also applies to water utilities and mining companies using huge amounts of water, at the expense of water ‘self supply’ farming families with their own dams and bores. 

“This callous action by John Kobelke to reintroduce the flawed and unfair fees will strengthen the resolve of farmers to continue to fight these fees in 2008,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said there should have been no further attempt by the Minister for Water Resources to introduce water licence fees until after the Legislative Assembly Economics and Industry Committee had conducted its inquiry into water licensing and services, due to be completed by 28 February 2008. 

“It is an extraordinary situation where the Minister for Water Resources in October 2007 moved the terms of reference and timeframe for the Committee’s inquiry into water licensing, and now has recklessly pre-empted the inquiry. 

“During November and December we wrote twice to the Chair of the Committee, Bob Kucera, expressing a view that such action by the Minister would pre-empt the Committee’s inquiry, have the effect of deterring submissions, make the inquiry outcomes redundant and waste Parliamentary and public resources. 

“Twice we formally requested Bob Kucera, and his fellow Committee members, including former minister Judy Edwards, to dissuade John Kobelke to refrain from pre-empting their inquiry. Either the Committee, including two former ministers, couldn’t or didn’t dissuade the Minister from his reckless action,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said his group had this week written to Bob Kucera requesting the Economics and Industry Standing Committee move disallowance of the Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations (No. 3) 2007 when Parliament resumes on 26 February 2008 and set a new date to complete their inquiry. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

DOWNLOAD submission made by the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group to the Legislative Assembly Economics and Industry Committee Inquiry into Water Licensing and Services on 7 January 2007


MEDIA RELEASE      22 NOVEMBER 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

WATER LICENCE FEES DISALLOWED 

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees have welcomed disallowance by the Legislative Council of the $200 to $1800 fees being imposed on farmers to use water from their own dams and bores. 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have run a campaign against new annual water licence fees, arguing the fee should have a rational basis and be fairly applied to all water users throughout WA. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said farmers congratulated the Greens, Liberals and Nationals for voting to disallow the Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations 2007

“The Minister for Water Resources, John Kobelke must promptly refund hundreds of water licence holders who have already been served invoices since 1 July 2007 and paid the harsh fees. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said there should be no further attempt to introduce water licence fees until after the Legislative Assembly has conducted its inquiry into water licence fees and the pending Water Resources Management Bill has been considered by the public and Parliament and enacted in 2008. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said he was aware the Greens had foreshadowed support for a revised water licence fee schedule which was fairer to water ‘self supply’ farmers, but Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners wanted the Minister for Water Resources to await the outcome of the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Economics and Industry Inquiry into Water Licensing and Services reporting in February 2008 (see attached notice of inquiry). 

“If the Minister doesn’t wait until after the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee conducts its inquiry, he is effectively treating that important process as a farce and signaling that to farmers and industry, and the Parliament.  

“The Committee is inquiring into the fundamentals of water licensing and fees in WA; including if garden bores in Perth should also be licensed in addition to water used by farms and industry, and the relationship of licence fees to the National Water Initiative. 

“In October 2007 the Minister supported the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee inquiry, and the Committee is calling for submissions from farmers and industry by 7 December; how can that process be taken seriously by farmers and industry if the Minister treats it as a political circus?” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

“In addition to the Legislative Assembly inquiry, the pending Water Resources Management Bill will totally transform the previous Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914, define which water resources should be licensed throughout WA, and establish an entirely new water resource planning and management framework. 

“The Minister for Water Resources should never have tried to introduce water licence fees ahead of this major legislation,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.   

Mr Bartholomaeus said farmers were prepared to pay rational and fair water licence fees based on a clear distinction between the cost of an application and assessment for a new dam or bore, and the subsequent cost to administer a licensing database over the 10 year duration of the licence. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      6 NOVEMBER 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

MINISTER’S SECRET OPTIONS ON WATER LICENCE FEES  

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees are concerned the Minister for Water Resources, John Kobelke may be trying to change to another water licence fee schedule in secrecy because he won’t share his new options with the Manjimup Bridgetown Times and thus the public. 

In September the Greens, Liberals and the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation moved in the Legislative Council to disallow the Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations 2007 that applied new water licence fees from 1 July 2007. 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have run a campaign against new annual water licence fees, arguing the fee should have a rational basis and be fairly applied to all water users throughout WA. 

Spokesperson for Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners, Neil Bartholomaeus said the disallowance motions must be debated by 14 November, but despite calls on the Premier and Minister Kobelke to totally withdraw the harsh fees the Minister was pushing alternative options which the Minister won’t share with the media and the public. 

Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners have written to the Premier requesting that given likely disallowance of the Regulations, the Government take immediate action to:

·         ensure no further invoices for annual water licence administration fees are served;

·         repeal the Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations 2007, and

·         refund water licence holders who have been served invoices and paid fees. 

The letter requesting the Premier intervene said there should be no further regulations for annual water licence administration fees until the pending Water Resources Management Bill is enacted in 2008. The Bill will consolidate and reform the law of water resource management in Western Australia and replace the water resource management provisions of the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 which is the head of power for the controversial Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations 2007 

Mr Bartholomaeus said that in contrast to Minister Kobelke’s secret options on fees, Paul Llewellyn of the Greens had published his option widely.  

Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners have met to consider the proposal from the Greens and in a letter to Paul Llewellyn they advised Mr Llewellyn of appreciation of the understanding he had demonstrated in regard to water licence administration fee issues and the action he had taken towards fair and equitable licence fees. The letter released to the Manjimup Bridgetown Times said 

 “Your proposal would be acceptable at an annual $50 plus $1 per megalitre if the Parliament deems it wishes to apply water licence administration fees. 

“Notwithstanding acknowledgement of the merit of your proposal, our view is the Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations 2007 should be repealed and no further regulations for annual water licence administration fees be introduced until the pending Water Resources Management Bill is enacted in 2008, as expressed in our letter to the Premier.” 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net


MEDIA RELEASE      25 SEPTEMBER 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

WATER LICENCE FEES SUBJECT TO THREE DISALLOWANCE MOTIONS 

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees have welcomed three disallowance motions in the Legislative Council to knock out $200 to $1800 fees being imposed on farmers to use water from their own dams and bores. 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have run a campaign against new annual water licence fees, arguing the fee should have a rational basis and be fairly applied to all water users throughout WA. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said farmers congratulated the Greens, Liberals and the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation for moving to disallow the Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Regulations 2007

“This remarkable trifecta of disallowance motions virtually ensures if these unfair Regulations go to a vote in the Legislative Council they will be defeated.  

“The Minister for Water Resources should now take action to prevent further invoices for fees being served by the Department of Water, go to Cabinet to withdraw the Regulations, and refund hundreds of water licence holders who have already been served invoices since 1 July 2007 and paid the harsh fees. 

“It is comforting to thousands of farming families that the Parliamentary process has provided a governance check and control on the Minister for Water Resources and Department of Water in regard to these irrational and unfair fees,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said there should be no further attempt to introduce water licence fees until after the pending Water Resources Management Bill has been considered by the public and Parliament and enacted in 2008. 

“The pending Water Resources Management Bill will totally transform the previous Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914, define which water resources should be licensed throughout WA, and establish an entirely new water resource planning and management framework. 

“The Minister for Water Resources should never have tried to introduce water licence fees ahead of this major legislation and he has now been caught out for trying to tax farmers and treating them as if they were fools,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the harsh $5.8 million water licence administration fees had a $3 million tax component and ‘self supply’ farmers allocated 21% of the water paid 86% of the annual licence fees, whereas corporations (irrigation cooperatives, water utilities, mining companies) with large water allocations and allocated 79% of the licensed water paid only 14% of the revenue to be raised by water licence fees.  

Mr Bartholomaeus said farmers were prepared to pay rational and fair water licence fees based on a clear distinction between the cost of an application and assessment for a new dam or bore, and the subsequent cost to administer a licensing database over the 10 year duration of the licence. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      24 SEPTEMBER 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

DEPARTMENT OF WATER RUNS MORE MISLEADING ADVERTISING 

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees claim the Department of Water continues to run misleading advertisements in September even after the Minister for Water Resources said they were corrected in June. 

A Department of Water advertisement running in the local paper covering the Manjimup and Pemberton area suggests the majority of licence holders will pay only $200 in fees whereas in fact only 18.7% of 10,168 licences statewide will pay $200, and in the Manjimup and Pemberton area only 2.3% of the 384 licences will pay $200. 

This misleading advertising was pointed out in a Parliamentary question on 3 May 2007, and in the press in May. On 5 June 2007 the Minister for Water Resources said the misleading statement had been corrected, now in a new advertisement the misleading statement has been repeated. 

Ross Ryan, a member of the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group fighting the new fees said there was no excuse for a Government agency lying twice on this contentious matter. 

“There is now a new Department of Water advertisement pushing this lie to take the political heat off their Minister. 

“A Department of Water advertisement on water licensing administration fees ran in the local paper on 25 April 2007 suggested 82% of farmers affected would pay a $200 annual fee, which was incorrect.  

“Now the Department of Water says a majority will pay less than $325 – where there is only one $200 fee class less than $325 –and in fact only 18.7% will pay a $200 licence fee. 

“This outrageous deception by the Department of Water strengthens the case for the water licence fees to be disallowed in the Legislative Council. 

“We hope the Government will be taught what the term majority means with a majority vote on the disallowance motion,” Mr Ryan said. 

Mr Ryan said there were other aspects to the current advertisement that were also misleading and farmers will be asking these be followed up in Parliament. 

For further information contact Ross Ryan on 0419904992, ross@manjimup.com


MEDIA RELEASE      21 SEPTEMBER 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

WATER LICENCE FEES REFERRED TO AUDITOR GENERAL 

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees have requested the WA Auditor General audit the basis of annual $200 to $1800 fees being imposed on farmers to use water from their own dams and bores. 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have led a campaign against new annual water licence fees, arguing the fee should have a rational basis and be fairly applied to all water users throughout WA. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the group made a detailed request to the Auditor General asking him to audit the basis of the Department of Water licence fees.  

Mr Bartholomaeus said the harsh water licence administration fees appear to have a major tax component, have a confused and confusing basis, facilitate cross subsidies and are not accompanied by performance indicators for the services; these combine to make the $5.8 million in fees unacceptable. 

The letter to the Auditor General this week raised four areas for audit attention:

·         revenue for assessment of applications for new water licences and renewal of licences exceeding cost recovery by $3 million or 225%, and that this is a tax without legislative basis;

·         inadequate disclosure of fee pricing policy with contradictions between Department of Water documents on fees and answers to parliamentary questions by the Minister for Water Resources;

·         cross subsidisation of large water allocation licence fees by water ‘self supply’ farmers allocated 21% of the water but paying 86% of the annual licence fees; whereas corporations (irrigation cooperatives, water utilities, mining companies) with large water allocations and allocated 79% of the licensed water will only pay 14% of the revenue to be raised by water licence fees. As an example, farmers in the Manjimup and Pemberton area will pay $6.40 per megalitre in licence fees while the irrigation cooperative at Harvey will pay 6 cents a megalitre and at the Ord River less than one cent a megalitre; and

·         lack of performance indicators for licensing, compliance, management of appeals to State Administrative Tribunal, community input and database services which are now expected to be funded by fees applying to farmers. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said farmers were prepared to pay rational and fair water licence fees based on a clear distinction between the cost of an application and assessment for a new dam or bore, and the subsequent cost to administer a licensing database over the 10 year duration of the licence. 

“The water licence fees introduced by the Government from 1 July 2007 are the first of three cost recovery activities the Department of Water claims are driven by commitments under the National Water Initiative; the additional cost recovery will be for water resource management charges and annual metering charges. 

“We have advised the Auditor General  we are seriously concerned the problems for water ‘self supply’ farmers with water licence administration fees will be repeated with water resource management charges as early as the 2008-2009 budget year, and then compounded by mismanaged cost recovery for annual metering charges,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners also made a submission on the water licence fees this week to the Legislative Council Public Administration Committee inquiry into governance of Western Australia’s water resources, and are encouraging members of the Legislative Council to disallow the regulations for the new licence fees. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

Download letter to Auditor General        Download Department of Water Fees Calculations


MEDIA RELEASE      24 AUGUST 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

WATER LICENCE FEES SCANDAL:  FAMILY FARMERS PAY FOR MASSIVE SUBSIDIES TO IRRIGATION COOPERATIVES AT ORD RIVER AND HARVEY 

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees claim the fee structure provides massive subsidies to irrigation cooperatives at the Ord River and Harvey supplied from public dams while family farmers supplying their own water from private dams and bores subsidised the cooperatives fees. 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have led a campaign against harsh new annual water licence fees, arguing the fee should have a rational basis and be fair to all water users throughout WA. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the Department of   Water had recently provided a document on how the fees were calculated which together with answers to questions in Parliament exposed the extent of the scandal. 

“Private family farms with their own dams and bores pay up to $102 per megalitre of water in licences annually while at the Ord River the licence fee is less than one cent a megalitre and at Harvey 6 cents a megalitre. 

“The Department of Water has two water licensing staff in Kununurra at a salary cost of $157,000, yet they will only raise $3000 in one licence fee from the Ord River cooperative towards their alleged cost recovery for a 335 gigalitre water licence for the cooperative. There are some other water licences in the Kimberly region, but that revenue in fees wouldn’t make up for what appears to be a massive subsidy to the cooperative. 

“Department of Water also has two water licensing staff in Manjimup yet, in stark contrast, Department of Water estimate they will raise $256,550 from the 384 water licence holders using 40 gigalitres of water in private dams in the Manjimup and Pemberton area. 

“Making the reasonable assumption that the two staff Manjimup office of the Department of Water costs no more to run than the two licensing staff Kununurra office, it is obvious that the overcharging in the Manjimup and Pemberton area alone subsidises the cost of the Kununurra office of the Department of Water. The same overcharging of private ‘self supply’ farmers is occurring throughout the state, subsidising the Ord and Harvey cooperatives, mining companies and water utilities,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the claims by the Minister for Water Resources and Department of Water that the fee structure was equitable and based on cost recovery was not credible. He said the recently acquired Department of Water document and Parliamentary questions showed many other discrepancies. 

“There were 1140 applications for bore and dam licences in 2005-06 in WA at an average of 14 hours for assessment of an application; by assigning the $29.73/hour Department of Water internal cost to assessment, the actual cost would be $474,490. Renewal of water licences every 10 years is normally without change to allocation, and would be less cost to administer. Why then is the Department of Water raising $4.1 million annually for the assessment of applications and renewal processes?” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners have sought the opportunity to make a submission to the State Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation, which had the power to recommend the regulations for the new fees be disallowed. Mr Bartholomaeus said the group would know next week if they could make a submission to the Committee. If the Committee after its enquiry doesn’t move disallowance, then he expected it to be otherwise moved in the Legislative Council. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net


MEDIA RELEASE      30 JULY 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

MISLEADING INFORMATION ON WATER LICENCES 

The Department of Water is misleading the public on water licences to minimise the political impact of new water licence fees, according to farmers in the South West opposing the fees. 

New annual water licence fees will affect thousands of farmers in WA from July, with many having to pay $600 to $2400 to use water from their own dams and bores. The State Government regulations for the new fees were proclaimed on 22 June and apply from 1 July 2007. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the Department of Water were issuing statements and running TV advertisements saying 95 percent of dams in the State do not require licences in an attempt to minimise the political opposition to the harsh fees.  

“There are over 700 farmers with dams in major agricultural areas which will be subject to the fees, most of them in the Manjimup and Pemberton area which is a major food bowl for the State. 

“In the Manjimup and Pemberton area, about 95% of fruit and vegetable growers will be subject to the fees; the reverse of what the Department of Water say in misleading TV advertisements. 

“The Department of Water is trying to detract from the negative impact the fees will have in the proclaimed water areas where much of the State’s fresh fruit and vegetables are produced. 

“Indirectly, the Department of Water propaganda is highlighting the unfair situation that dams in proclaimed areas such as Manjimup, Pemberton and Donnybrook will be subject to fees, whereas in other non-proclaimed areas such as Bridgetown, Mount Barker and Denmark similar dams are not licensed,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said it is outrageous the $5.8 million in annual water licence fees includes paying $231,000 for the cost of community awareness programs when obviously political and misleading TV advertisements were being run by the Department of Water with the community awareness funds. 

The Department of Water is providing farmers the opportunity to pass in licences associated with dams holding run-off water, where the Department had previously issued licences for these dams. Mr Bartholomaeus said this was another attempt to minimise political opposition to the fees. 

“Why is the Department now saying these run-off dams don’t require licences when the same Department issued the licences in the past for these dams under existing legislation? Didn’t the Department understand its own legislation when it issued the licences? This is half-smart politics. 

“The Water Resources Management Bill to become law in 2008 adds run-off and spring water as belonging to the Crown, and these dams will then be subject to licensing as is water from streams and underground now. 

“So in 2007 the Department is saying a licence now isn’t needed for a run-off dam, yet the Department knows the new laws in 2008 will require the same dams be licensed in proclaimed areas. This is particularly disturbing, as farmers who pass in licences now may not be able to get the same allocation in future,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said fortunately the State Parliament provides a democratic check on such bad governance and dam owners should not pass in water licences for fear of the harsh fees until the outcome of a motion of disallowance of the regulations for fees is known by October. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      26 JUNE 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

NEGATIVE IMPACT OF NATIONAL WATER INITIATIVE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA 

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees are requesting the Federal Government intervene to ensure cost recovery actions related to the National Water Initiative are rational, equitable and fair. 

New annual water licence fees will affect thousands of farmers in WA from July, with many having to pay $600 to $2400 to use water from their own dams and bores. The State Government regulations for the new fees were proclaimed on 22 June to apply from 1 July 2007. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said State Minister for Water Resources John Kobelke had ignored requests from farmers to reduce the harsh fees, now farmers were requesting intervention by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull to ensure the fees are rational, equitable and fair. 

The request to the Federal Minister says while the Commonwealth introduced the National Water Initiative with the best intentions to address the crisis with over allocated and over used water in the Murray Darling Basin, the Initiative should not have unintended negative impacts on rural businesses and communities in other parts of Australia. The request says the new water licence fees are unacceptable because: 

·         $2.8 million of the $5.8 million to be raised is related to alleged services, $3 million appears to be a tax (information established by Parliamentary questions);

·         farmers will pay $102 to $2.40 per megalitre each year for a water licence, whereas corporations such as water utilities, mining companies and irrigation cooperatives will pay only 14 cents a megalitre for their annual water licences;

·         farmers allocated 21% of the water will pay 86% of the annual licence fees, whereas corporations with large water allocations of more than a gigalitre and allocated 79% of the licensed water will only pay 14% of the revenue to be raised by water licence fees;

·         the Government of Western Australia has shifted water licence numbers to which annual fees apply from 18,764 (2006), to 13,541 (February 2007) to 10,841 (30 May 2007); a remarkable 42% reduction in licences in less than a year, when they should be extending licensing to all water resource systems; and

·         in contrast to the sustainable and productive use of rural water, 120 gigalitres of groundwater is drawn by 150,000 domestic bores in Perth to water roses and lawns; yet the Government of Western Australia has decided neither licences, nor fees, nor metering are required for domestic bores. The 120 gigalitres of groundwater is being drawn unsustainably from the Perth basin system, as evidenced by the collapse of urban wetlands.  

Mr Bartholomaeus said the Federal Minister should withhold funding for Western Australia under the National Water Initiative until the State Government amends the harsh water licence fees. 

“The Federal Minister should intervene and the State Parliament should also move to disallow the new regulations required for the fees. 

“There should be a comprehensive licensing system to cover all water resources, accompanied by a rational, equitable and fair water licence fee,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      11 JUNE 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

WATER LICENCE FEES TRIFECTA:  CORPORATE FAVOURITISM,
TAX BLACK HOLE AND SHIFT IN LICENCE NUMBERS 

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees claim the fee structure favours corporations at the expense of farmers, there is a $4 million tax black hole in the basis for the fees, and licence holder numbers are being manipulated. 

New annual water licence fees will affect thousands of farmers in WA from July, with many having to pay $600 to $1800 to use water from their own dams and bores. 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have led a campaign against harsh new annual water licence fees, arguing the fee instead should be $222 for a 10 year duration water licence, equivalent to a drivers licence. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said recent answers to questions in Parliament showed the bias against farmers in the fee schedule structure was even worse than previously thought, with big corporate users of water favoured at the expense of farmers. 

“Farmers will pay $102 to $2.40 per megalitre each year for a water licence, whereas corporations such as water utilities, mining companies and irrigation cooperatives will pay only 14 cents a megalitre for their annual water licences. 

“Farmers allocated 21% of the water will pay 86% of the annual licence fees, whereas corporations with large water allocations of more than a gigalitre and allocated 79% of the licensed water will only pay 14% of the revenue to be raised by water licence fees. 

“This makes a mockery of the Minister for Water Resources claim that it is more complex and time consuming to manage a water licence with a large water entitlement than a smaller one and that the range of fees reflects this," Mr Bartholomaeus said.  

The Government intends to raise $5.8 million in water licence fees for assessing water licence applications, checking compliance with licence conditions, maintaining licensing databases, management of appeals and community awareness. However, Mr Bartholomaeus said answers to questions in Parliament showed
$1.8  million was required to deliver these specific services, not $5.8 million; thus there was a $4 million black hole in the proposed fees which amounts to a tax as it is not related to services.  

“To make up a trifecta of blunders in the water licence debacle, the Government have shifted licence numbers from 18,764 (2006), to 13,541 (February 2007) to 10,841 (30 May 2007); an astounding 42% reduction in licences in less than a year, when they should be extending the licence system to all water resources. 

“With the fee rationale and revenue dollars flawed, and dramatic change in licence numbers to which the fees apply, the Minister for Water Resources has demonstrably been poorly advised and he must either introduce a proper system before July or put the current proposals on hold until a proper system is devised.  

“If the Minister doesn’t move to fix the water licence and fee system, then Parliament should move to disallow the new regulations required for the fees. 

“There should be a comprehensive licensing system to cover all water resources, accompanied by a rational, equitable and fair water licence fee system,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      13 MAY 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

FARMERS APPEAL TO PARLIAMENT ON WATER LICENCE FEES 

Farmers opposing new water licence fees have called on the Liberals, Nationals and Greens to disallow regulations in Parliament introducing $200 to $1800 annual fees from July 2007 to use water from farm dams and bores. 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have led a campaign against the new water licence fees, arguing the fee should instead be $222 for a 10 year duration water licence, equivalent to a drivers licence. Opposition to the fees has now spread throughout country WA. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said farmers met with Greens MLC Paul Llewellyn in Manjimup on 11 May and requested the Greens support a motion for disallowance of the regulations they expect to be moved by the Liberal Party.  

“Paul Llewellyn has shown he understands that farmers need to make a living from water related agriculture and that fees must be equitable and fair, which is in stark contrast to the Minister for Water Resources who wouldn’t accept an invitation to come to Manjimup and discuss the fees with farmers,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

He said Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners had written to the National Party requesting their support, and he was optimistic it would be provided. 

“We approached Paul Omodei, Leader of the Opposition and Member for Warren Blackwood in March this year and asked him to consider blocking the enabling regulations for fees if the Government didn’t reduce the fees. 

“The Department of Water has now started serving notices to farmers throughout the State on fees so we have given up on the Premier and Minister for Water Resources and turned our attention to Parliament. 

The harsh water licence fees applying from July 2007 are neither rational, nor equitable nor fair. 

“We have circulated 12 reasons for the Parliament to disallow the regulations and believe the Auditor General should also examine the basis for the proposed fees which exceed cost recovery for licensing.   

“The Government has changed the number of applicable licences from 18,674 to 13,541 in just eight months, increased the fees simultaneously and run misleading advertising to justify the new fees. 

“Fortunately, the State Parliament provides a democratic check on such bad governance,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said after the regulations for harsh new fees were disallowed, they should be replaced by a rational, equitable and fair fee schedule. He said farmers support a reasonable water licence Application fee for assessing applications and a $222 Licence fee for a 10 year duration licence, as applies for a drivers licence, to administer the licensing database. 

Attachment: REASONS TO DISALLOW REGULATIONS FOR WATER LICENCE ADMINISTRATION FEES

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net


MEDIA RELEASE      7 MAY 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

DEPARTMENT OF WATER RUNS MISLEADING ADVERTISING 

Farmers in the South West opposing new water licence fees claim their community has been targeted by a Department of Water advertisement suggesting 82% will pay only a $200 fee whereas only 1.9% will pay $200 and 54% will pay $600 to $2400 annual fees. 

Farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton have led a campaign against new $200 to $3000 annual water licence fees to be introduced from July 2007, arguing the fee instead should be $222 for a 10 year duration water licence. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the Department of Water had run a misleading advertisement in the local paper covering the Manjimup and Pemberton area suggesting 82% of farmers will pay only a $200 annual fee for a water licence when the Department knew from their own records only 1.9% of farmers in the area will pay a $200 fee. 

“A Department of Water advertisement on water licensing administration fees ran in the local paper on 25 April 2007 suggested 82% of farmers affected would pay a $200 annual fee.  

“However, just six days earlier a State Government appointed water management advisory committee was given a document by the Department of Water showing only 1.9% or 8 of the 428 licences in the Manjimup and Pemberton area would pay a $200 fee. 

“In fact the information provided to the Warren Water Management Area Advisory Committee on 19 April by the Department of Water showed 54% of licence fees in the area would be $600 to $2400 annually, a totally different picture to that painted in the advertisement. 

“The information in the advertisement was misleading and deceptive in regard to the real impact the new water licence fees would have on farmers in the Manjimup and Pemberton area. 

“It is difficult to conclude other than the advertisement was intentionally meant to mislead farmers in our area;” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said if a private company ran such a misleading and deceptive advertisement they would be open to prosecution under the Trade Practices Act, but unfortunately government agencies were exempt.  

Mr Bartholomaeus said the Minister for Water Resources should make a statement regarding how many other newspapers the specific advertisement was run in and what action the Department of Water were taking to correct the misleading information published.  

“We won’t accept the misleading information was a typing error. That would be an unacceptable explanation for the action of a $92 million budget Department of Water which is very aware of the public interest in the harsh new water licence fees,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net

MEDIA RELEASE      30 APRIL 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

5674 WATER LICENCES VANISH FROM GOVERNMENT RECORDS  

5674 water licences have vanished from Department of Water records between July 2006 and April 2007, according to farmers campaigning against the high cost of new $200 to $3000 annual water licence fees.  

The State Government’s Blueprint for Water Reform published in July 2006 stated there were 18,764 current water licences in Western Australia. In an April 2007 media release and in advertisements in the press the Department of Water now says there are 13,000 existing water licensees in Western Australia. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the Department of Water was also running misleading and deceptive advertisements stating 82% of licencees will pay a $200 annual fee when their Acting Director General contradicts this. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the Department of Water must explain how 5674 water licences, being 30% of the previous 18,764 licences, have been transformed in the past 9 months. Mr Bartholomaeus speculated that:

  • the Department’s records supporting 18,674 licences in 2006 were inaccurate or outdated and now the Department were applying licence fees from July 2007 the records had been cleaned up to service accounts; or
  • the new lower numbers are based on the Department now assigning a licencee multiple licences when the relevant legislation appears to provide that a licencee equates to a single licence, as in normal interpretation; or
  • combination of both of these administrative failures.

Mr Bartholomaeus said the new $200 to $3000 annual water licence fees have no rational basis and are a crude attempt at ‘user pays’ for a bloating Department of Water which is blaming the National Water Initiative when the fees in WA are the highest in Australia.  

“As an alternative, we are seeking a flat fee equivalent to a drivers licence, $222 for a 10 year duration water licence; that’s what it costs to put information into Government databases, and to track and renew licences.   

“The new water licence fees are particularly unfair on thousands of farmers in country WA who have paid for their own dams and bores to provide water for agriculture while 154,000 garden bores in Perth using 120 gigalitres of water will not be subject to licences or fees.  

“The unfair fees schedule also favours the Water Corporation, mining companies and the Harvey Water cooperative at the expense of thousands of family run farming businesses.  

“For example, it appears Harvey Water cooperative will only pay $9000 in water licence fees for their 153 gigalitres allocation from seven public dams for 703 irrigators. Thus notionally a $13 annual water licence fee per irrigator in Harvey, when most farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton will each pay either $600, $1200 or $1800 annually to use water from their private farm dams.  

“Harvey Water has massive public subsidies; the Government should take 45 gigalitres of water from that inefficient system before it takes 45 gigalitres from the Yarragadee with unknown environmental impacts and high costs. There are no new environmental impacts taking water from the Darling Range irrigation dams and there is already a pipe from Harvey to Perth without spending $600 million on Yarragadee. 

“We challenge the Department of Water to immediately update and publish a fee, licences, licensees and revenue table so the thousands of farmers subject to these harsh fees can see how many water licences are in each of the $200, $325, $600, $1200, $1800 and $3000 fee classes, and what the total revenue collected will be now there are apparently 5674 less licences,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.  

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, neil@waterreform.net


MEDIA RELEASE      25 APRIL 2007      WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

LANDOWNERS SUBMIT ALTERNATIVE TO WATER METERING 

Landowners in the Manjimup and Pemberton area are submitting their own estimates of water in their dams as an alternative to expensive metering by the Department of Water estimated to cost $1670 annually on top of $600, $1200 and $1800 licence fees. 

The Minister for Water Resources has determined mandatory metering will be conducted by the Department of Water for all water licences above 50 megalitres, which is the majority of the 511 licences in the Manjimup and Pemberton Area, and all new water licences will be required to be metered. The Department of Water will assess sites, purchase, install, maintain, replace and read the meters and recover all of these costs, plus borrowing costs, from water licence holders by an annual metering charge. 

Spokesperson for the Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners group, Neil Bartholomaeus said based on costs from the Department of Water Directions Paper on Metering (2006) an annual metering charge would be $835 per meter for surface water, or $1670 per water licence with an average of two meters deployed per water licence. 

“There has been no cost benefit analysis by the State Government to justify the high cost of compulsory water metering on top of high water licence fees, for no benefit to farmers. 

Metering of water extracted from dams only quantifies use, it doesn’t provide information on water volume in the dam discharged by evaporation and seepage; thus metering is of limited value for management of surface water resources.  

An annual ‘Surface Water Licence Report’ by licence holders of measurement of water levels and volumes from their dams is a practical alternative to expensive metering and should be an option under relevant legislation.  

Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners are submitting their own Surface Water Licence Reports to the Minister for Water Resources to demonstrate how practical this low cost alternative is,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

“Our alternative Surface Water Licence Report takes 10 minutes and a 50 cent stamp, that sure beats paying a $1670 annual metering charge for an expanding water metering bureaucracy. 

“If we don’t stop the increasing charges by the State Government on country WA, we might as well go to our farm gates and give $100 notes to every Government plated car that drives by,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus urged landowners to visit the water reform campaign web site at www.waterreform.net and download a Surface Water Licence Report form to submit to the Minister for Water Resources. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098 or 0418910289 .


MEDIA RELEASE     12 MARCH 2007     WATER REFORM AT WWW.WATERREFORM.NET  

LANDOWNERS REJECT NEW WATER LICENCE FEES 

Landowners in the Manjimup and Pemberton area have begun a campaign to prevent new costly water licence fees applying from July 2007, when landowners will be charged hundreds of dollars to use water from their own dams. 

In February 2007 the Minister for Water resources announced new water licence fees to apply from July affecting over 500 licence holders in the Manjimup and Pemberton area, with most having to pay more than $600 annually. 

The landowners are asking the Premier to reduce the water licence fees to the same level as for a driver’s licence. If the Premier won’t reduce the water licence fees, landowners want the Opposition to move a motion in State Parliament to disallow regulations required for the new fees. 

Spokesperson for local landowners, Neil Bartholomaeus said in a meeting today with Paul Omodei, Leader of the Opposition and Member for Warren Blackwood, landowners asked Mr Omodei to support water licence fees at the same level as a driver’s licence, and to consider blocking the enabling regulations for fees if the Government doesn’t reduce the fees. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said in contrast to the high cost of these new water licence fees, a driver’s licence can be renewed for 5 years for $111. Administration costs associated with both forms of licenses are similar, but the fee for a water licence is 9 to 81 times higher cost and cannot be justified.   

“In addition to the water licence fees, most landowners in the Manjimup and Pemberton area will also be charged an annual metering fee for the cost of water meters to be installed and run by the Department of Water to measure water use from the landowner’s dams. 

“While meters are important for bores which can draw an unlimited amount of underground water, the amount of water used from private dams over summer is limited by what the dam can hold from previous winter flows and can be measured without expensive meters. 

“It is unfair that landowners who have built dams in our area to supply their own water are going to be charged both licence and metering fees when the Government will not be requiring operators of 150,000 domestic bores in Perth to be either licensed, pay fees or be metered,“ Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said he and other landowners had written to the Premier asking him if he believed this approach to water licenses, fees and metering is fair and equitable in regard to his Government’s treatment of people in the country versus the city? 

Letters to the Premier, Minister for Water Resources and Minister for the South West have been made available from a water reform campaign web site at www.WaterReform.net  

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098 or 0418910289 .


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