Murray Irrigation cops $9m loss

By Country News on December 02, 2015

Murray Irrigation Ltd has recorded a $9million loss on a $34million turnover for the past financial year.

Chief executive officer Michael Renehan, who joined the company during the year, said MIL had delivered 739Gl of water to its customers, which did not meet the break-even target of 1000Gl a year.

The company recorded increased revenue from irrigation undertakings during the year, compared to 2014.

In August, Mr Renehan flagged a disappointing result and said the company might have to increase its fixed-water delivery charges by up to 30 per cent.

He implemented a number of changes to the company, which included removing some senior management positions.

‘‘As I work towards developing a strategy for the company that will set us up for the next five years and beyond, I am taking steps to transition the company as a balanced, cost-effective and customer-focused workforce,’’ he said in August.

‘‘I will continue to work with the board and to seek customer input as I develop a robust strategy that will position the company to deal with the current financial challenges and the ever-present nature of variable water availability.’’

Mr Renehan said cost-saving options being explored, in the absence of more water being delivered into the system, included unpalatable water-price increases and infrastructure changes.

He revealed the company had posted an operational loss in nine of the past 10 years.

He said given MIL must deliver water to its customers irrespective of how much water was available, the company’s fixed costs associated with that delivery were not being covered.

This was being exacerbated by programs, such as the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program, which were designed to make farmers more efficient but consequently result in less water being delivered through the system, he said.

‘‘Another option is to have a smaller (infrastructure) footprint, but that means we would only be utilising 20 to 30 per cent of infrastructure,’’ he said.

Last year the company improved water losses and water delivery efficiency, but performance on delivering water on the requested date, slipped slightly.

‘‘The high-flow strategy for on-farm operations, which is only achieved through the outlet upgrade process, allowed over 740 orders to be placed at higher flow rates than traditionally possible with Dethridge outlets,’’ the annual report said.

Last year the company paid $414000 in directors’ fees.

By Country News on December 02, 2015

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