Council of Australian Governments water reform
Shepparton Weir, Victoria
Photo John Baker
About the Council of Australian Governments water reforms
The role of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is to initiate, develop and monitor the implementation of policy reforms that are of national significance and which require cooperative action by Australian governments.
The outcomes of COAG meetings are contained in communiqués released at the end of each meeting. Recent COAG water reform decisions include:
- Endorsing the National Water Initiative Policy Guidelines for Water Planning and Management (out of session decision of 5 April 2012);
- Agreeing a response to the National Water Commission's second biennial assessment (2009) of progress in implementation of the National Water Initiative (NWI) (out of session decision of 5 April 2012);
- Agreeing to the retention of the National Water Commission and refocusing its attention on the three key functions of audit, assessment and monitoring (COAG decision 13 April 2012); and
- Requesting that the Standing Council on Environment and Water report to COAG by the end of 2012 on the next stage of national water reform (COAG decision 13 April 2012).
Agreements on water management are made at COAG as well as relevant Ministerial Councils including:
- Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council
- Standing Council on Environment and Water
- Standing Council on Primary Industries
For more information on Water Reform decisions and initiatives see:
National Water Initiative (NWI)
The principal COAG water policy agreement is the NWI, which is Australia's enduring blueprint for water reform. Through it, governments across Australia have agreed on actions to achieve a more cohesive national approach to the way Australia manages, measures, plans for, prices, and trades water.
COAG review of the National Water Commission
The COAG Review of the National Water Commission was tabled in Parliament on 14 March 2012.
COAG agreed on 13 April 2012 to continue the National Water Commission for the life of the NWI, refocusing it on the core functions of audit, assessment and monitoring. The National Water Commission Amendment Bill 2012 was passed by Parliament on 21 June 2012.
- Extension of the National Water Commission - Media Release 21 June 2012
Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin water reform
On 3 July 2008 the Australian and state governments signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform to secure a sustainable future for the Murray-Darling Basin:
- Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray–Darling Basin Reform (PDF - 236 KB)
- COAG Communiqué 3 July 2008
Water Management Partnership Agreements were subsequently agreed between each of the Murray-Darling Basin States and the Commonwealth, setting out the terms and conditions for Commonwealth funding of state water infrastructure and water savings projects, and requiring specific water planning and market reforms.
For more information on Water Act 2007 and other reforms related to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform see: