Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment

Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment

National Water Initiative Celebrates Tenth Birthday

Media release
25 June 2014

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Australia's National Water Initiative (NWI), first signed at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on 25 June 2004.

The Initiative was signed by Prime Minister Howard and state Premiers, and began the significant water reform push that our country has seen unfold over the past decade, with the NWI principles responsible for fundamental change in water policy and water management in Australia.

"The NWI is a landmark agreement that set in train the need to have sustainable limits on the use of our water resources, to improve the way we value the nation's water resources and provide greater certainty for water users," said Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment.

"Under the NWI all governments forged a national and bipartisan approach to the way Australia manages, measures, plans for, prices, and trades water.

"Australia has come a long way in its water efforts and now sets a world standard in the way we manage our water resources.

"At its heart, the NWI sets out the blueprint for how our water resources are to be managed and shared to support resilient communities, healthy ecosystems and economic development.

"By putting a real value on water as a resource and better enabling the active trading of water, the agreement has delivered sustained productivity gains for rural and urban Australians.

"The Abbott Government will continue this work, build upon these important reforms of the Howard Government and encourage the states to fulfil their key obligations.

"We intend to maintain strong, independent oversight that ensures the principles of the NWI continue to be upheld in all areas of the water sector, from urban pricing principles to the management of rural and environmental water," said Senator Birmingham.

The National Water Commission commemorated the NWI's tenth birthday by releasing an e-book which highlights significant benefits that have flowed to individual water users, communities, industries and the environment.

Commission Chair Karlene Maywald said, "We recognise that some important actions remain unfinished. Later this year the Commission will present to COAG a comprehensive view of progress under the NWI and subsequent reforms.

"This assessment will make recommendations on actions governments should take to fully achieve the economic, social and environmental outcomes that were enabled by this landmark agreement.

"Although the full extent of the NWI's aspirations is yet to be realised, we have a framework that 10-years on is proven and robust.

"As we celebrate the NWI's tenth anniversary, we should redouble our commitment to its important principles to ensure that it continues to guide future decisions about how best to manage Australia's valuable water resources."

The e-book is available online at the National Water Commission's website

Simon Birmingham