Water sector reform has been underway for several decades and reflects the fundamental importance of water to our economy and the considerable challenges of managing a common natural resource, often affected by periods of scarcity. A national approach to water reform began in 1994 with COAG`s pioneering water reform framework and has been continued by subsequent initiatives such as imn (2004), the Water Act 2007 (Cwth) and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (November 2012). In conducting the analysis, the Commission should consider the observations and reports of all relevant government investigations and responses. The Commission should also take into account reform initiatives at court level that are relevant to the scope of the investigation. The study of the reform of The Australian Water Resources Sector will meet the legal requirement of the Second of the Commission`s Triennial Assessments of Progress in Achieving the OBJECTIVES AND RESULTS of the IMD required by Section 88 of the Water Act 2007, and this mission should be read in conjunction with that Act. The Commission conducted its first national inquiry into water reform in 2017. The Commission found that Australia is managing its water resources well, given our dry and highly variable climate and the importance of water to our economy. However, much remains to be done. Governments must fulfil the undone tasks of the IMD, including the full implementation of requirements and planning reforms, and respond to the challenges posed by population growth, climate change and changing Community expectations. The Council of Australian Governments initially envisaged that the strategic framework for water reform should be implemented by 2001. The implementation period was then extended until 2005.
In order to increase transparency, the Commission should also assess progress in water planning across Australia, in order to improve the clarity of complex and often misunderstood water planning processes in different legal systems. The focus should be on the political and legislative procedures for water planning in each country and not on detailed implementation agreements on the ground. The Commission should endeavour to identify areas where procedures and areas for improvement are needed. The Commission should take into account the format for the presentation of that assessment in order to clearly communicate its results to a wide audience, including stakeholders who wish to understand the state of play of water planning in its territory. Progress in the implementation of water reform has been an important element in several assessments (annual, deferred and complementary) of the National Competition Council, including the last evaluation of the Water Reform of the National Competition Council in 2004. . . .