The Australian dairy industry is pushing for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to fast track its investigation of the water market to ensure greater transparency in water trading in the Murray Darling Basin.
Peak advocacy group the Australian Dairy Industry Council is arguing that an extensive examination of the market is needed to validate assumptions of water use along the Murray River system, including irrigation and environmental demand and the impact of constraints.
In May federal water minister David Littleproud announced he had tasked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to look at the water trading regime.
This was in response to concerns about the influence of speculators and brokers on the market.
The ADIC wants fast action on the inquiry.
It also sees the Murray Darling Basin Authority's independent assessment of social and economic conditions in the basin as important.
"These inquiries will provide valuable insights to improve water conditions in the Murray Darling Basin but the time frame for reform is narrow," ADIC chair Terry Richardson said.
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The Murray Darling Basin is home to 1330 dairy farm businesses with a value of production worth more than $2.6 billion, supporting more than 3000 direct jobs in the region, which Mr Richardson said was evidence of dairy's importance to a resilient Basin community.
Dairy Australia data shows the average water price in Northern Victoria was $526 per megalitre in June, 212 per cent higher than the same time the previous year.
Mr Richardson said the high prices were far above what dairy farmers in the Murray Darling Basin could pay.
"Many irrigators and water traders find it difficult to understand the market dynamics surrounding this change, which makes it hard for them to manage risk," he said.
The ADIC push comes on the back of an MDBA audit report that revealed significant shortcomings with market transparency and water trade price reporting from all states.
This story first appeared on Australian Dairyfarmer