Independent review of the Water Act 2007

​On 12 May 2014, the former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Senator Hon. Simon Birmingham, announced an independent review of the Water Act 2007.

About the review

This was the first review of the Act since it commenced on 3 March 2008. In accordance with its terms of reference, the review assessed the operation of the Act, the extent to which its objects have been achieved and opportunities to minimise regulatory burden imposed on irrigation infrastructure operators, water managers and irrigators.

The review was undertaken by an independent Expert Panel comprising Mr Eamonn Moran PSM QC (Chair), Mr Peter Anderson, Mr Gavin McMahon and Dr Steve Morton.

Review report

Publication details

Commonwealth of Australia, 2014

The Review report was tabled out of session on 19 December 2014. The report made 23 recommendations and 30 conclusions relevant to the terms of reference.

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DocumentPagesFile typeFile size
Report of the Independent Review of the Water Act 2007148PDF1.16 MB
Report of the Independent Review of the Water Act 2007190Word10 MB
Report of the Independent Review of the Water Act 2007 — Recommendations and Conclusions9PDF82 KB
Report of the Independent Review of the Water Act 2007 — Recommendations and Conclusions11Word34 KB

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Government response

Publication details

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, 2015

On 3 December, the Minister for Agriculture and Water resources table the government’s response to the Review report and introduced the Water Amendment (Review Implementation and other Measures) Bill 2015 to the Parliament. The Australian Government’s response to the Water Act Review accepted all 23 of the expert panel’s recommendations in full or in part.

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DocumentPagesFile typeFile size
Report of the Independent Review of the Water Act 2007: Australian Government response27PDF334 KB
Report of the Independent Review of the Water Act 2007: Australian Government response27Word162 KB

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The review recommendations were incorporated into the Water Act 2007 through the Water Amendment (Review Implementation and Other Measures) Act 2016, which was passed by the Australian Parliament on 2 May 2016. The amendments to the Water Act 2007:

  • allow for greater flexibility in the use of the proceeds of water trading by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
  • require five-yearly reviews of the socio-economic impacts of the Basin Plan
  • ensure a further review of the Water Act in 2024
  • allow for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to sell water in circumstances where allocation would otherwise be foregone
  • reduce regulatory burden on the irrigation sector and state government agencies
  • ensure the Water Act more effectively supports the delivery of the Basin Plan.

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Public consultation

Extensive consultation was undertaken to inform the review’s findings.

Interested parties were invited to make submissions between 26 May 2014 and 4 July 2014. The 73 public submissions made are available below.

The expert panel also conducted early meetings with peak bodies and all states and territories; and interactive roundtable discussions with groups from a range of sectors, including industry, environment, Indigenous and community groups and governments.

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Submissions

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