National Water Commission
National Water Commission building
|Statutory authority overview|
|Dissolved||25 November 2014|
|Jurisdiction||Commonwealth of Australia|
|Headquarters||Turner, Australian Capital Territory|
|Motto||Australia's independent voice on national water issues|
|Statutory authority executives||
|Parent department||Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities|
The National Water Commission (NWC) was an independent statutory authority within the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities portfolio in Australia. The agency was abolished by the Abbott Government in 2014.
It provided independent, evidence-based advice to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Australian Government on national water issues.
The Act was amended in June 2012 following an independent COAG Review of the Commission.
Under the amended Act, the Commission has three core ongoing functions: monitoring, audit, and assessment. It is also empowered to undertake broader activities that promote national water reform objectives. The Commission has additional functions under other Commonwealth acts and regulations:
- The Water Act 2007 assigned an ongoing function to audit the effectiveness of the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and associated water resource plans. The Commission is required to conduct its first audit by March 2013 and subsequently no later than five years from the conduct of the first audit.
- In 2011, the Commission was delegated additional functions under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Regulations 2011.
The Commission's past
The key function that the Commission provided was to advise the Prime Minister on expenditure of the Australian Government Water Fund between 2004 and 2010. This included three programs: Water Smart Australia; Raising National Water Standards Program and Australian Water Fund Communities. The Commission managed more than 170 projects under the Raising National Water Standards Program. The Raising National Water Standards Program facilitated investment in Australia's ability to measure, monitor and manage its water resources.
The Commission also has an assessment role for National Partnership Payments. This task is undertaken under delegation from the COAG Reform Council. Under the Water Act 2007, the Commission has a new, ongoing function to audit the effectiveness of implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and associated water resource plans.
The Commission published biennial assessments of progress in implementation of the National Water Initiative, the latest being in October 2011. The 2011 assessment makes 12 major recommendations to COAG to reinvigorate the water reform agenda and fully deliver its economic, environmental and social benefits.
The National Water Commission was abolished by the Australian Government's National Water Commission (Abolition) Act 2015 in October 2014. The reason for disbanding the commission was due to "the substantial progress already made in water reform and the current fiscal environment, there is no longer adequate justification for a stand-alone agency to monitor Australia's progress on water reform." The Government transferred key functions of the commission to other existing Commonwealth agencies, such as the productivity commission and the Department of Environment.
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- Pigram, John J. (2007). Australia's Water Resources: From use to management. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-643-09442-0.
- NWC Annual Report 2009-2010. National Water Commission.
- Emerging trends in desalination: A review. Waterlines report No 9 - October 2008.
- Fifield, Mitchell (25 September 2014). "Senator the Hon". Australian Senate Handard.