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New national water reform inquiry

The Productivity Commission has launched a major review of Australian water reform, aiming to take a much broader view than just the Murray-Darling.

The Productivity Commission says Australia is recognised as a world leader in water management, but that does not mean there is no room for improvement.

It is calling for public contributions as it reflects on how water policy decisions have been made over the past two decades, as well as how effective those have been.

The inquiry will also look at changes needed in the future to make sure water policy keeps pace with climate change, population growth and ageing infrastructure.

Productivity Commissioner Jane Doolan, who has responsibility for environment issues, said the year-long review would try to set out “the national suite of priorities for the next wave of water reform in the country.”

The Murray-Darling is to be reviewed separately.

While the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is the largest single example of water reform in Australian history, the Productivity Commission’s review will not take an in-depth look at the controversial plan to return water to the Basin environment.

The commission is due to specifically examine the Basin Plan in a separate review in 2017.

“The Murray-Darling is a really significant part of Australia and some of the issues that happen there are also common to other areas,” Dr Doolan said.

“Things like trading, pricing, criteria for investment decisions, areas of environmental water management and governance — those policy areas are nationally significant and nationally applicable.

“We’ll be looking at those sorts of areas that will translate into national policy.”

The Productivity Commission is seeking submissions and comments on the review until April 18th 2017.

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