Submission to the Productivity Commission

Submission to the National Water Reform 2024 consultation



As Australia’s blueprint for water reform, the National Water Initiative (NWI) is an important opportunity for ensuring sustainable management of Australia’s water resources. ATSE’s submission calls for a nationally led, locally implemented, contemporary NWI which considers climate change, urban water, water quality, Indigenous interests, the processes for future investments in water infrastructure, and improved data and knowledge about water.

ATSE calls for the establishment of a renewed National Water Commission (NWC) with authority and resources sufficient to catalyse necessary reforms by water managers across Australia. ATSE is keen to see the previous reform agenda resume and extended to deal with a new range of contemporary reform issues. ATSE calls for a commitment to and evolution of the NWI to meet current and impending crises in national water, thereby enabling economic, health, social and productive outcomes for Australia, through the following actions: 

Recommendation 1: Apply an Environment / Social / Governance (ESG) framework as the foundation of the NWI. 

Recommendation 2: Define and design the role of government, governance and institutions to lead and deliver outcomes. 

Recommendation 3: Re-establish and evolve the National Water Commission. 

Recommendation 4: Implement structures to transparently uphold the principles of the NWI. 

Recommendation 5: Account for uncertainty, including the effects of climate change and population growth. 

Recommendation 6: Manage for security of water quality as well as quantity, acknowledging changing community expectations. 

Recommendation 7: Include a focus on urban water. 

Recommendation 8: Embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement and Traditional Knowledge in the NWI. 

Recommendation 9: Prioritise knowledge generation, including through investing in digital technologies, enabling data-driven decisions and investments.