Budget begins process of water market reform

13 May 2021

The Coalition Government is delivering a sensible step in the 2021-22 Budget to give water users a seat at the table as we work with states on reforms to Murray–Darling Basin water markets.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the Government will establish an expert panel who will be tasked with directly responding to the ACCC inquiry.

“In March the Australian government welcomed the ACCC’s recommendations as an important step in ensuring Murray-Darling Basin water markets can better deliver for water users, rural communities and the environment.

“This Budget commits $3.5 million to establish the panel to address the ACCC recommendations will begin the process to improve the governance, structure and operation of Murray–Darling Basin water markets.  
“The recommendations are wide ranging with around 90 per cent involving coordination with Basin states and will require unified action from all levels of governments, which is why we are taking this consultative approach.
“This is an important and detailed report that requires careful and detailed consideration and we owe it to our river communities to take the time to get this right.

“We have been listening to our farmers and communities who want certainty through this process, which is why I have asked the panel to provide a draft roadmap before the end of this year.

“Basin communities have our guarantee that any Coalition Government response will support water users and communities rather than burden them.

“I also acknowledge the hard work of our MPs and Senators across the Basin who are strongly advocating for their communities on this important issue and they can be assured that the Morrison-McCormack Government is committed to getting this reform process right.” Minister Pitt said.

The panel will include eminent technical experts with experience in overseeing reform and others with experience in the operation of markets.