Role & functions

The National Water Commission is an independent statutory authority that provides advice to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Australian Government on national water issues.

We are responsible for providing independent assurance of governments' progress on water reform. We also promote the objectives and outcomes of the National Water Initiative (NWI)—an agreement signed by all governments in Australia.

Governing legislation

Our organisation was formally established by the National Water Commission Act 2004, which was amended in June 2012 following an independent COAG Review of the Commission.

Under the amended Act, the Commission has three core ongoing functions: monitoring, audit, and assessment. We are also empowered to undertake broader activities that promote national water reform objectives.

The Commission has additional functions under other Commonwealth acts and regulations:

  • The Water Act 2007 assigned an ongoing function to audit the effectiveness of the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and associated water resource plans. The Commission is required to conduct its first audit by March 2013 and subsequently no later than five years from the conduct of the first audit.
  • In 2011, the Commission was delegated additional functions under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Regulations 2011.

Our Strategic Plan 2013-16 (PDF 460.5 KB) (DOCX 466KB) describes the Commission's priorities, values and stakeholders.


The Commission is accountable to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment.

Portfolio and partners

The Commission is an independent statutory authority within the Department of the Environment.

To achieve our objectives, we work closely with COAG, state and territory governments, Australian Government departments and agencies, and the water industry.

Current news

The Australian Government has decided to close National Water Commission at the end of 2014. More information

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