Water minister Lisa Neville said the advisory panel would report to her and the GMW board, providing options to ensure GMW was best placed to take advantage of the $2 billion Connections Project.
“I have established a Strategic Advisory Panel to drive investment in the region and support GMW to ensure cost effective services are delivered for customers and better support the irrigation district into the future,” Ms Neville said.
“We want to build confidence in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) and GMW can play a vital role in leading regional development and prosperity in the region.”
The panel would also provide advice on how to deliver efficient, cost-effective services to GMW customers, any changes to current strategic direction, and how to promote and encourage further investment in the region.
The development of GMW’s strategic plan started in October 2016 and had incorporated extensive consultation with customers, stakeholders and staff.
The panel’s work would complement GMW’s strategic plan.
The panel will consist of Chair Mike Walsh and members David Heeps and Suzanne Ewart.
It would provide recommendations to Ms Neville and the GMW board in January next year.
Ms Neville said the panel was the result of the community identifying the need for a clear strategic direction for the region to provide confidence in a sustainable, cost effective irrigation district.
It was also hoped to ensure local landholders and growers had confidence to continue to grow their businesses.
But opposition Water spokeswoman Steph Ryan has called on Ms Neville to “come clean” as to what prompted the latest review of GMW.
She said the advisory panel was the third body created in two years to advise on GMW projects and strategic direction, and suggested the Government lacks confidence in the organisation.
The Minister must explain to customers and key stakeholders exactly what the issues were, and provide an opportunity for the community to contribute to the review process.
“She must also explain why her dime-a-dozen reviews have so far failed to achieve any results,” Ms Ryan said.
“The minister has had three years to address the concerns of GMW and northern Victoria and it’s time we start seeing action and results, not just more reviews.”