Mr Fisseler said it while there would be some flexibility, GMW could not allow assets to sit idle. “We are talking about people who are not using water, who are not in the business of irrigating,” Mr Fisseler said.
“I don’t want to see stranded assets, so we are looking into options around asset recycling and coming up with a strategy around them.”
But he said if a potential irrigator came up with a solid case for keeping a stranded asset, because there were plans to expand or there was no history of irrigation on the land, he was open to suggestions. “It’s not set in stone,” Mr Fisseler said.
He said consultation with landholders had improved, since The Primary Agency was paid nearly half a million dollars for its role in the state and federal government’s mid-term review. GMW paid the agency in financial year 2015/16, for “stakeholder engagement and reset communications’ and a reset strategy.
GMW was reimbursed by the state government.
At the Echuca Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) water forum, Connections Project Control Group (PCG) chairman Mike Walsh described the previous engagement process as “crap.”
“Virtually, there wasn’t an engagement process, it was crap,” Mr Walsh said.
“We have put in place what we think is a solid engagement process, a landowner engagement process, it has set time frames to work with people, constructively, to get the right outcomes.
But Mr Fisseler said the half a million dollars was spent, before the PCG was put in place.
“We changed the whole consultation process, the whole engagement process.
“I know it is a challenge for people to understand why this project will take until October 2020, but I can’t finish the job the next day, for every person that has a problem.”