There has been yet more evidence of the State Government's failure on water development in Budget estimates hearings this afternoon, with the admission that it is still reviewing serious water rights issues that affect the viability of farmers.
The situation should have been fixed long ago, and it is unacceptable that some seven months after announcing a review into the problem that the State Government was unable to announce or foreshadow any changes to the current regime today.
At the centre of the problem is that water rights in Tasmania are usually only granted for 10 years, and are therefore not perpetual and do not have a similar status to freehold land.
This affects the ability of farmers to attract finance for farm developments as water access is a security issue.
In its submission to the first biennial assessment of the National Water Initiative earlier this year, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association said:
"The ten year approach fundamentally creates uncertainty and risk for water users and other stakeholders with an interest in the water market as it infers that the Minister could simply revoke a license (by way of not reissuing) after ten years."
The Australian Bankers Association (ABA) said:
"Titles in Tasmania and proposed in Western Australia are reviewable and therefore ABA does not regard them as being perpetual or open ended. A prudent leader would need to be mindful of this and may treat the WAE (water access entitlement) different to land when considering them as collateral. In Tasmania, for example, a water license may not be renewed if it is deemed not compatible with a water plan. ABA remains concerned that at some stage in the future a Government will use such an opportunity to rescind WAEs without compensation."
Leader of the State Opposition, Will Hodgman, said farmers were losing patience with the Minister, David Llewellyn.
"The Minister's review of this issue is starting to look like a smokescreen for doing nothing," Mr Hodgman said.
"Providing certainty of water access is critical to giving farmers, and their banks, the confidence to invest in water development in Tasmania.
"That this still has not dawned on the Minister is just another example of water development suffering under the Labor Government."