This draft report assesses the progress of the Australian, State and Territory governments towards achieving the objectives and outcomes of the National Water Initiative (NWI), and provides practical advice on future directions for national water reform.

Key points:

  • Since the mid–1990s, governments have implemented a program of national water reform, with the most recent agreement — the National Water Initiative (NWI) — signed in 2004.
  • This national water policy has served Australia well, but it is 17 years old. It has reached its use-by date and it will struggle in the face of the challenges ahead — increased population, increased community demands and the likely effects of climate change.
  • This inquiry responds to the Australian Government’s request for the Commission to undertake its second assessment of jurisdictions’ progress towards achieving the objectives and outcomes of the NWI, and to provide practical advice on future national water reform directions.
  • To ensure water security is maintained for communities and industries in the face of these challenges, governments and water utilities are gearing up to spend billions of dollars over the next decade on infrastructure. It is critical that this investment is spent wisely to maximise the benefits to water users, and avoid sharp price increases or excessive costs for taxpayers.
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