Revelations that nearly half of New South Wales’ biggest irrigators have made no effort to install compliant meters six months after the deadline is yet another example of the National Party’s special treatment of corporate irrigators and shows that the penalties for non-compliance aren’t tough enough, says Cate Faehrmann Greens MP and water spokesperson.
“Irrigators have had enough time to install meters on their massive pumps, yet six months after metering became mandatory compliance is a joke. This is yet more proof that putting the National Party in charge of water is putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“There are an estimated 20,000 pumps that were to be metered by 1 March 2021 under the government’s non-urban water metering framework. Yet with almost half of all pumps greater than 500mm in diameter still to be metered, that's an extraordinary amount of water take that can’t be measured.
“No one in their right mind would think that fines of just $750 for individuals and $1500 for corporate irrigators for not installing meters are enough incentive to do the right thing. Clearly some irrigators would rather wait as long as they can before installing compliant meters and have to account and pay for every drop they’re taking.
“There is also no way the government can move on issuing licences for floodplain harvesting when they haven’t sorted the metering out.
“The Water Minister needs to demonstrate that she is treating all water users across the state equitably and do a lot more to clamp down on some of the biggest irrigators with the biggest pumps who still aren’t compliant.
“The big irrigators have had long enough to show that they will play by the rules. The Water Minister needs to significantly increase penalties for non-compliance when it comes to installing meters on these massive pumps and she needs to do it now,” said Ms Faehrmann.