Tasmanian Irrigation defends executive salaries at 2017 government business enterprise hearings

Tasmanian Irrigation chief executive Nicola Morris
Tasmanian Irrigation chief executive Nicola Morris

Tasmanian Irrigation’s transition from a construction body to an operational business was discussed at length on the second day of government business enterprise hearings.

Wednesday’s hearing came on the day a new $30 million North Esk irrigation scheme was announced, to be jointly funded by the state and federal governments.

Tasmanian Irrigation is responsible for overseeing the establishment of such schemes and selling water rights to private landholders.

Former Primary Industries Minister David Llewellyn raised in the hearing that the original intention of the plan was to give farmers control over individual schemes, except for those deemed too complex, to minimise costs, particularly for water sales.

Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said those sentiments had reduced over time.

Tasmanian Irrigation chief executive Nicola Morris said there would be the opportunity to flesh out the organisation’s future in a parliamentary inquiry on the issue to be held next year.

She said the business had made substantive moves to reduce costs, including executive salaries.

Tasmanian Irrigation’s last annual report showed executive remuneration was $762,000 for the year with Ms Morris herself earning $347,000.

Ms Morris said two of those four positions had been since cut with one replaced by another role attached to lower pay and the other role’s responsibilities distributed among staff.

She said other cost efficiencies had been found in land tax and rates savings and lowering energy costs.