As was required by the National Water Commission Act 2004, an independent COAG review of the Commission was conducted in 2011.
Dr David Rosalky was appointed to undertake the COAG review, which examined what ongoing roles and functions should continue or commence, and provided advice and recommendations on appropriate options and institutional arrangements for implementing such functions.
In accordance with the Terms of Reference, the Review conducted interviews with numerous key stakeholders covering a range of topics. Selected stakeholders were invited to provide written submissions while others sought to submit on their own initiative. All written submissions are available on the COAG Review webpage.
COAG Review report
A positive COAG review report concluded:
There remains a clear need for an independent expert body to drive the national water reform agenda, maintain the collaborative and consultative partnership approach necessary for the delivery of that agenda, and focus attention and investment on emerging issues and challenging aspects of reform.
Releasing the report on 14 March 2012, Senator Farrell announced that the Government intended to continue the National Water Commission to oversee the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) national water reform agenda.
National Water Commission Amendment Bill 2012
The National Water Commission Amendment Bill 2012 was introduced to the Parliament on 22 March 2012.
After referral to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, the Bill passed without amendment through both Houses on 21 June 2012.
Related submissions are available on the Committee website.
Related parliamentary speeches - see National Water Commission Amendment Bill 2012.
The Bill was assented to on 27 June 2012.
The amended National Water Commission Act makes changes to the functions and operations of the Commission, focusing on its primary purpose of providing independent assurance of governments' progress on water reform.
The legislation closed the Australian Water Fund account, thereby ending the Commission's specific ability to administer those funds, but permits the Commission to administer Australian Government funding programs that may be allocated to it in the future.
The Bill also reduced the number of Commissioners (including the Chair) from seven to five, reflecting the Commission's refocused functions.
This Bills Digest contains background to the Bill and COAG Review, consideration by the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, the policy position of non-government parties/independents, and the position of major interest groups.