The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently "discontinued" investigations into Murrumbidgee Irrigation water meters.
An Australian Institute research submission, by Maryanne Slattery and Roderick Campbell, to the Murray Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry Bill outlined a "long standing dispute" in the MI Scheme relating to incorrect water meters.
The submission references "anecdotal reports" from farmers in one scheme about "egregious" actions of scheme operators to the benefit of one or two irrigators. In an email given to The Area News by one MIA shareholder whose complaints were investigated, the ACCC said:
"You allege that MI has made false or misleading representations in relation to the accuracy of its MACE meters. You allege that MI's MACE meters systematically over read outside of the range represented by MI.
After careful consideration, we have decided not to take action under the Competition and Consumer Act or the Australian Consumer Law at this time.ACCC Spokesperson
"The ACCC has carefully considered the information you have provided to determine whether MI's representations about its meters have contravened the ACL [Australian Consumer Law], in particular the provisions relating to false or misleading representations.
"The ACCC has decided to discontinue its enquiries as we have not found evidence that MI has breached the provisions of the ACL and CCA [Competition and Consumer Act 2010].
"However, as a result of our enquiries, MI has agreed to release a fact sheet to it's customers providing clarifying information about the meters in MI's area."
When approached by The Area News, the ACCC would not confirm how widespread the investigations were, however said they had made the enquiries in MI's area "in response to concerns raised."
"After careful consideration, we have decided not to take action under the Competition and Consumer Act or the Australian Consumer Law at this time," a spokesperson said.
MI referred The Area News to the email and fact sheet sent out to all shareholders in response to the ACCC inquiry.
The email reads: "At Murrumbidgee Irrigation (Ml) we have had a long history of investing in meter technology including testing different meters and assisting in the development of the industry standards.
"We are proud of our meter program. Over the last 25 years as industry standards have been developed and new cost-efficient technology has become available, we have responded by continually updating our meters."
They also outline they are currently replacing the Doppler meter fleet with Electro-Magnetic meters.
The ACCC will be holding its public forum into the water market in Griffith on Monday at 2pm at the Griffith Exies Club.
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