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National Water Reform

Issues paper

This paper was released on 16 March 2017 to assist participants in preparing a submission to the public inquiry into National Water Reform. It outlines a range of issues about which the Commission is seeking information.

Initial submissions were due by 18 April 2017.

Opportunity for further comment was also sought on the draft report.

Submissions were due by 19 October 2017.

Read the draft report

The final report will be handed to the Australian Government by 31 December 2017.

The release of the final report by the Government is the final step in the process.

Under the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the Government is required to table the report in each House of the Parliament within 25 sitting days of receipt.

Download the issues paper

  • Media release
  • Contents

Are we ready for the next millennium drought?

'Over the last 20 years Australia has implemented major water reforms that have seen Australia become a world leader in water management. But with a variable climate and much arid land, Australia has a lot to lose if we don't continue to lead in water management,' said Commissioner Jane Doolan.

Today the Productivity Commission released an issues paper posing the questions the Commission will seek to ask and answer in their National Water Reform Inquiry.

Water reform has supported growth in agriculture and other industries, returned much needed water to the environment, created markets for better water use and delivered improved water services for all Australians.

'This inquiry will not simply ask and answer have we done well to date. It will also focus on the future challenges to ensure our water policy settings are future proof. Climate change and climate variability, population growth and ageing water infrastructure are looming challenges,' said Associate Water Commissioner, John Madden.

'Consultation is really important for this inquiry. The Productivity Commission wants to hear what has worked well and what hasn't, is there any unfinished business and what is needed for water policy to serve us well in the future,' said Associate Water Commissioner, John Madden.

Initial consultation has identified some areas that the inquiry should focus on including urban water services, planning for future water security and environmental management. The Commission wants to hear from people if these are the issues that the inquiry should be concentrating on in water management.

The Commission has also established a stakeholder working group as an additional and important consultation forum.

The government has also tasked the Commission with undertaking a review of the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP). That separate inquiry will be undertaken in 2018 and will examine the MDBP more closely.

'The current inquiry will still be examining the Murray Darling Basin in-so-far as it is an important water catchment in Australia and national water policy matters are integral there as well,' said Commissioner Jane Doolan.

The Commission is seeking comments and submissions and these are due by 18 April 2017.

Both submissions and comments can be submitted online at:

Background information

Leonora Nicol (Media, Publications and Web) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443

  • Terms of reference
  • 1 What is this inquiry about?
  • 2 Conduct of the inquiry
  • 3 Australia's water policy reform to date
  • 4 The Commission's approach
  • 5 Water resource management
  • 6 Water services
  • 7 Achieving reform
  • References
  • Attachment A: Glossary
  • Attachment B: National Water Commission's 2014 recommendations
  • Attachment C: How to make a submission