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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Page: 7336

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) (12:43 PM) —Sorry, Senator Siewert. I do not actually have here either officers from the ACCC—obviously so because it is a statutory agency—or from the department on that specific program. My recollection is that they are consulting currently, they will make a recommendation to the government in relation to—from memory—two aspects of the water market rules and the government will make a determination. In fact, third parties are one of the issues to be determined.

I have some notes here. I am advised that the ACCC is also considering water-charging rules which cover termination fees payable on the sale of water. These fees will be able to be charged in ways to ensure that there is no lasting cost imposed on an irrigation corporation. Take, for example, the consultation with me. The corporation will say, ‘We want a higher exit fee because we have to continue to pay certain costs’—the issue that Senator Nash raised. The irrigator who is selling wants a lower exit fee, for obvious reasons. These are issues that the ACCC is considering, and there is a process under the act for the consideration and determination of those. We consider that to be a more sensible process. It is a process that is currently ongoing, currently underway, and it would not be sensible to impose another inquiry on top of that.