The Federal Government has proposed to extend the National Water Commission and its ‘ongoing provision of robust and transparent oversight of COAG water reform through the National Water Initiative.”


Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, said that the Federal Government has made the proposal following an independent review by Dr David Rosalky.


When the National Water Commission was established under the former Liberal/National Government, it was for a fixed time frame only," Senator Farrell said.


"But the Gillard Government recognises the importance of the ongoing role of the Commission in overseeing the COAG water reform agenda and that’s why we believe it should continue.


"The Government supports the National Water Initiative and Murray Darling Basin reforms and sees the National Water Commission as the best means of providing independent assurance on the progress of all governments."


As required under the National Water Commission Act 2004, the Government commissioned an independent review of the NWC last year with Terms of Reference agreed by COAG.


That review recommended that the NWC continue for the life of the National Water Initiative and that it should be refocused on four key functions: audit, monitoring, assessment and knowledge leadership.


Key proposed changes to the ongoing National Water Commission are:

  • Removal of the sunset clause, allowing the Commission to continue for the life of the National Water Initiative, withfuture five-yearly reviews and evaluation of its role;
  • Focusing the National Water Commission’s functions to enable it continue to carry out the core functions of audit, assessment and monitoring into the future. It will continue to undertake assessments of the progress of jurisdictions in implementing the National Water Initiative, but on a triennial rather than biennial basis;
  • Reducing the number of Commissioners from seven to five, due to the NWC’s refocused functions and operations;