Australia’s water blueprint: national reform assessment 2014

30 November -0001

This report is the fourth and final assessment of the 2004 National Water Initiative (NWI) undertaken by the National Water Commission.

It provides an independent, evidence-based assessment of whether the water reforms articulated in the NWI, including subsequent COAG reforms, are achieving their intended outcomes.

What did the assessment find?

 View the Media release.

Water reform in Australia has been driven by the value of water as an enabler of economic activity and by the environmental, social and economic costs of exceeding resource limits.

Solid progress on managing the nation's water resources during the past two decades has delivered tangible benefits to governments, communities and industries. The reform principles enshrined in the NWI have proven to be of enduring value, even when confounded by crisis, shorter-term priorities and declining resourcing.

Ten years on from the signing of the NWI, water reform in Australia is at a cross roads. Many reform gains are now taken for granted and the multi-party support that has been a hallmark of this historic agreement is at risk of breaking down.

Given the substantial government investments and hard-won progress so far, and the valuable but challenging gains yet to be realised, it is critical that there is no backsliding from reform principles.

Strong leadership is essential to realise the full benefits of water reform and to embed proven NWI principles into the decision making of all Australian governments.

The National Water Commission makes 10 recommendations that call on governments to sustain their commitment to water reform so that Australia continues to optimise water's contribution to our economy, environment and communities.

View online