Closure in 2014
The 2014-15 Budget confirmed the Australian Government's decision to close National Water Commission (NWC) at the end of 2014 in order to achieve a net saving of $20.9 million over the next four years. As at April 2014 the Commission had 38 ongoing staff and two non-ongoing staff.
The Portfolio Budget Statement relating to the Commission states:
The Government has decided to cease the operations of the Commission in 2014-15 and to reallocate its statutory and some assessment responsibilities to other agencies. Legislation to repeal the National Water Commission Act 2004 will be tabled in the Parliament during the Budget sittings for effect from 1 January 2015.
In 2014-15 the NWC will focus its activities on the completion of the triennial assessment of Commonwealth, state and territory governments' implementation of their commitments under the NWI and provide a report to the Minister and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on progress of reform and on key issues needing to be addressed in the future. The NWC will also undertake administrative action to close its operations by 31 December 2014.
Some of the National Water Commission's core functions will transfer to other agencies. We have responsibility to:
- provide independent assurance of governments’ progress on water reform and promote the objectives and outcomes of the National Water Initiative (NWI)
- audit the effectiveness of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and associated water resource plans
- assess the performance of MDB states in implementing agreed milestones under the National Partnership on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin
- assess Carbon Farming Initiative proposals under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Regulations 2011.
- The Commission also publishes:
o Water markets reports to inform the market on trading and pricing
o National performance reports for metropolitan, regional and rural water delivery agencies
Final agreement on the transfers of all these functions is yet to be reached.
The Commission works in partnership with governments around Australia, as well as with peak bodies who are represented on our Stakeholder Reference Group. Many of these organisations have responded publicly to the decision to close the Commission.
- Call for key functions to remain as National Water Commission abolished, 13 May 2014, Australian Water Association and Water Services Association of Australia
- Abolishing National Water Commission short sighted, 22 April 2014, Water Services Association of Australia
- Role of water authority should not go down the drain, 28 April 2014, National Farmers' Federation
- For nature or against? It’s the government’s choice, 2 May 2014, Australian Conservation Foundation
Related media articles
- Who watches the waters? The end of the National Water Commission, APH Parliamentary Library, 16 May 2014
- Australia disbands National Water Commission, Circle of Blue WaterNews, 16 May 2014
- Concern small cuts to Federal Government agencies and programs could have larger effects, 23 May 2014, ABC News
- Water users worry budget cuts will compromise Murray-Darling Basin plan, ABC AM, 19 June 2014.
- Scientists blast government water policies, Sydney Morning Herald, June 29 2014
- Water industry seeks renewal of commitment to National water plan (PDF 78.7 KB), media release from the Australian Water Association (AWA) and Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), 25 June 2014
- Independent role must oversee water reform National Farmers’ Federation (PDF 139.2 KB), media release from the National Farmers' Federation, 25 June 2014
- Fears for the future of water reform with axing of NWC, RN Breakfast, 25 June 2014
- ‘Is Australia’s water reform record under threat?’, (PDF 388.9 KB) opinion piece by Dr John Williams in AWA’s Water Journal, June 2014 issue