The letter below was sent to the Minister for Water Resources on 26 February 2007 inviting him to meet with farmers in Manjimup. The request was followed up with his Appointments Secretary and a written offer was made by Manjimup and Pemberton Landowners of either a small group or public meeting in Manjimup. In a letter of reply of 4 April 2007, Minister John Kobelke ignored the request for a meeting with him. (Note, the letter below was sent to the Minister the day before he made his announcement on ‘water reforms’ on 27 February 2007, implementing even higher water licence fees.)

Neil Bartholomaeus
PO Box 534
Manjimup, WA 6258

26 February 2007

The Hon John C Kobelke BSc DipEd JP MLA
Minister for Water Resources
20th Floor, 197 St George's Terrace
PERTH WA 6000 

Dear Minister 


I write to express concern in regard to the potential impact on the Manjimup area economy and community of the proposed State Government water reforms based on the National Water Initiative, and to seek a meeting with the Hon Minister to discuss concerns. A well attended public workshop held in Manjimup on 27 July 2006 to discuss the Draft Blueprint for Water Reform in Western Australia overwhelmingly rejected the proposed reforms, preferring the present system of licensing and management of water resources in the Manjimup area (Warren and Donnelly River catchments). Matters of concern include:

  • that a ‘one size fits all’ State Government imposed water management system based on over allocated and over used water resources in the Murray Darling Basin will be damaging to the Manjimup area economy and community where water resources are not over allocated
  • possible failure of the State Government to recognise farm dams and irrigation infrastructure in the Manjimup area were funded by private investment by landholders, in contrast to the Harvey, Collie, Ord and other State Government funded and constructed irrigation schemes
  • the high cost of proposed water licence administration charges, whereby 300 licence holders in the Manjimup area will be required to pay $850 a year to take water from their own privately funded dams; attached is a reasonable alternative adopted by the statutory Warren Water Management Area Advisory Committee on 21 February 2007 (Position Statement: Water Licence Administration Fees)
  • the cost and impracticality of State Government imposed installation, reading and maintenance of water meters, in circumstances where it is unnecessary and there is no demand for water trading
  • the proposed framework for water access entitlements whereby water entitlements from private dams will be separated from access to land or land title, causing confusion and deterring investment
  • possible speculative acquisition of water entitlements under the proposed auctions or tender for entitlements, noting Governments have failed to control speculation in other resource areas
  • the ‘Proposed Directions’ for water use efficiency in the Blueprint for Water Reform rely too heavily on the blunt economic policy instruments of ‘Establishing markets for water and water trading’ and ‘Full-cost pricing of water’
  • no detail from the State Government on what ‘full-cost pricing of water’ would mean in practice in the Manjimup area where landholders have met the full cost of construction of farm dams

I seek the Hon Minister’s assurance these serious concerns are being addressed by the State Government.  

A group of landholders representing the range of private land uses in the Manjimup area would like to meet with the Hon Minister to discuss these concerns, as a matter of urgency before the State Government determines changes to the legislative and administrative framework for water licenses. I shall contact the Hon Minister’s Appointments Secretary to establish if a meeting in Manjimup is possible. 

Yours sincerely, 

Neil Bartholomaeus                                                                                  cc Minister for the South West
                                                                                                                   Member for Warren-Blackwood


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