Water consumer advocate, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), has welcomed the Productivity Commission’s calls for an overhaul of Australia’s national water policy.
In a report released on Thursday, the Productivity Commission urged Australian Governments to modernise and strengthen the National Water Initiative so it can effectively guide water policy and planning into the future.
‘This report presents a crucial opportunity to reform water planning, policy and management,’ said Craig Memery, Head of Energy and Water Policy, Public Interest Advocacy Centre.
‘The Productivity Commission’s findings should be a wakeup call for Australian Governments that water policy and governance need urgent attention.’
The report called for a raft of measures to improve the transparency, accountability and resilience of water planning and governance, including restoring cooperation between federal and state ministers on water matters; a stronger focus on climate change impacts; removing exemptions for mineral and petroleum industries from water access entitlement and planning arrangements; and enabling better use of water resources such as through recycling and storm water harvesting.
PIAC welcomes these findings as crucial steps in restoring community faith in the management of water, and building more transparent, evidence based, independent water institutions.
‘Communities should feel confident precious water resources are being managed in their interests,’ said Mr Memery. ‘Recent events like water shortages in regional towns, mass fish deaths and water restrictions make improving transparency, accountability and resilience more important than ever.’
The report also highlighted the need to include and recognise the rights of First Nations communities in water policy, planning and management.
‘First Nations communities have been excluded from decision-making around water for too long,’ said Mr Memery. ‘Recognition of First Nations water rights should be a fundamental element of water planning and reform.’
MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Energy and Water Communications Officer, Anna Livsey: 0478 739 280