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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6193

Dr STONE (4:33 PM) —In Victoria there is a report just released by the Auditor-General that looks at the extraordinary malpractice that has gone on in relation to the North-South Pipeline and the so-called Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project work, which they say has been very poorly executed. Certain channels have not had appropriate quality management, tendering has not been done and, in many ways, there has not been value for money.

I will give an example today of what it means to be on the ground as a farmer experiencing firsthand this inefficiency and shambolic administration. I want to talk about Steve Dalitz, who is a dairy farmer near Numurkah. With regard to the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project, he agreed with his neighbour to close part of a spur and approximately three kilometres of backbone channel. The closure meant that Steve would have to relocate his wheel to another section of the main channel and approximately 50 acres of his property would have to be re-lasered and replanted.

Of course seasons do not wait for anybody, so Steve made it a condition that this work had to be done within a certain time frame so he could regrow enough of his rye grass and so on to feed his cattle. He needed to get to work. Unfortunately, despite the agreement on when the contract would be made available, it was not on time. It was a month late and he had to delay his work, re-lasering his property and regrowing until that time. That means that he will not now have in place the feed that he needed. His costs for feed are now approximately $300 a day and he will lose up to $40,000 by the end of this season.

It gets worse. Having had that problem, costing him a lot of money for extra feed, he then found that Goulburn-Murray Water had not communicated with NVIRP, so along they came to this section of channel which was to be closed down, to carry out maintenance works on each of the wheels in his section. This is a section that is to be closed down. In addition, they also carried out maintenance earthworks along sections of the channel that are to be closed, and this work is still going on. He told the truck drivers delivering the material to the site that it was going to be a closed channel and that their maintenance work was going to be a waste of time. They said: ‘Too bad, mate. It is what we have been told to do.’

He is really annoyed because he has a badly leaking channel elsewhere on his properties east of Numurkah. No work has been carried out on this section of channel—a section which is not to be closed. But, where the channel is to be closed, maintenance is being carried out. This is because there is simply no communication between Goulburn-Murray Water—a state owned authority—and the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project, another state owned authority. This is shambolic. It is chaos. It is not value for money and it is literally destroying people’s lives.