Media statement: Response to Australia Institute report on Commonwealth water purchase in the Condamine Valley, Qld

The Australia Institute report, That’s not how you haggle…Commonwealth water purchasing in the Condamine Balonne, incorrectly asserts the government paid more than the vendor’s asking price in a purchase from Eastern Australia Agriculture.

That conclusion is demonstrably false based on publicly available information.

From the actual March 2017 proposal negotiated for 28.7 gigalitres (GL) of water, the seller sought $3150 for water entitlements on their Clyde property and $2775 for entitlements on their Kia Ora property.

The final price paid was $2745 per megalitre—a decrease of the seller’s asking prices.

The Australia Institute report selectively compares an earlier proposal in February 2016 from the vendor to sell 5.4GL of water for $2200—conditional on the additional purchase of a storage on which the vendor placed a value of $16 million. In effect, this added a further $2960 per megalitre to the price of the water (that is, $5160 per megalitre in total), for a storage that may not have been utilised.

The price paid took into account a commercial valuation, and the unique characteristics of the offer in terms of size, location, high environmental benefits and low socio-economic impact.

The acquisition has significant environmental benefits for the lower Balonne, including the Culgoa and the Narran Lakes. The Narran Lakes Natural Reserve is a Ramsar-Listed wetland of international importance. It provides an important breeding habitat for waterbirds; supports movement, feeding and breeding of native fish species; and provides flows into floodplains which are critical in supporting woodland vegetation communities.

This water is an entitlement that counts as part of achieving Basin Plan targets.

The department stands by this water purchase as value for money.