Mildura Weir Lock River Murray, Mildura, Victoria.,Murray,River

The Australian Labor party has announced a $26 million commitment to re-establish the National Water Commission and renew the National Water Initiative to drive ongoing water reform and future-proof Australia’s water resources.

The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) welcomed the announcement to re-establish the National Water Commission and renew the National Water Initiative.

Adam Lovell, WSAA Executive Director, said, “We welcome the announcement to renew a national focus on water management in Australia. For almost a decade since the abolishment of the National Water Commission, there has been a vacuum in national leadership in managing Australia’s most precious resource. 

“Transparency and independence are key – it creates confidence for all Australians that decision making and planning is paying attention to the best available science and views of stakeholders.

“WSAA is pleased to see a commitment to renewing the National Water Initiative, a blue print for managing water across our cities, towns, industry, agricultural, mining and remote Indigenous communities. 

“A healthy community is a healthy economy and water underpins the health of our communities, ecosystems and prosperity of industry.

“Water is critical to our cities and communities in contributing to liveable and healthy environments and as a key economic enabler. 

“The water industry is uniquely exposed to pressures from climate change, and as an industry we are seeking to accelerate our response through mitigation and adaptation measures as we transition to a net zero future.”

Labor says it will also take up the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to broaden the remit of the National Water Grid Fund. 

In a statement, Labor also said it will broaden the National Water Grid Fund investment policy, to allow funding for a broader range of projects, including for essential town water supplies in regional and remote communities.  

Labor’s five-point plan for the Murray Darling Basin comprises: 

  1. Working with Basin governments and stakeholders to deliver on water commitments, including the 450GL of water for the environment
  2. Increasing compliance across the Basin and, to support that compliance work, committing an additional $35 million for improved metering and monitoring
  3. Restoring integrity and confidence by working with stakeholders to implement relevant ACCC recommendations, and by making the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s modelling and data publicly available where possible
  4. Increasing First Nations ownership of water entitlements and participation in decision making
  5. Future-proofing the Basin Plan by updating the science, committing $8.5 million for the CSIRO Sustainable Yield study to inform the forthcoming review, committing $3.5 million for an independent study on climate change’s effect on Ramsar wetlands in the Basin and, if justified, considering whether to bring forward the commencement of the 2026 review

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