A GROUP that championed the plight of irrigators through the basin plan process has collapsed amid falling membership and a more competitive water market.
High Security Irrigators – Murrumbidgee Inc (HSIMI), an advocacy group formed out of the Murrumbidgee Horticultural Council in 2009, has fallen into recess and this week sold its main funding stream – the Murrumbidgee Water Exchange.
The organisation played a pivotal role in lobbying both the state and federal government through the basin plan negotiations and fighting for a fairer go on a range of other high security irrigation issues.
But an influx of players in the water market in recent years has dried up the group’s revenue base and forced it to go into recess.
The water exchange business has been sold to Rawlinson and Brown and Ruralco.
NSW Irrigators Council CEO Andrew Gregson said while his organisation would continue to advocate for irrigators, the loss of HSIMI was “disappointing”.
“It’s disappointing to hear of the decision ... they were a voice at the table and gave great assistance through the basin plan process,” Mr Gregson said.
HSIMI chief executive Brian Halse declined to comment to The Area News and chairman Ross Harvey did not return calls.
The group primarily represented growers with permanent plantings, including grape, citrus, stonefruit and nut growers.
Wine Grapes Marketing Board CEO Brian Simpson paid tribute to the work HSIMI had done in recent years.
“They played a valuable role but as a voluntary funded organisation, they suffered from low returns,” he said. “They sat on a lot of representative committees and groups like ours will now have to pick up the lost slack.
“It is a real loss for irrigators.”
It is understood HSIMI will start a rural scholarship with its remaining funds.
Rawlinson and Brown Griffith director Alister Watt said the Murrumbidgee Water Exchange would “continue to be a lobbying voice” for irrigators through its membership of the Australian Water Brokers Association.