By The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP

10 November 2022

Tanya Plibersek Minister for the Environment and Water

Reforming Australia's water markets

The Australian Government is delivering once-in-a-generation reform of our water markets, cracking down on cowboys and delivering certainty to farmers and industry.
The Government will improve trust and transparency of water markets through significant investment.

The Federal Budget includes $31.6 million for water market reform, which will update and improve how buyers and sellers trade and sell water licences.

The funding will implement the Water Market Reform: Final Roadmap Report – which will improve the functioning and governance of water markets and improve overall confidence.
The Reform Roadmap recommendations are split into 4 sections: Integrity and transparency, Data and systems, Market architecture and Governance.
The funding includes:

  • $12 million over four years to the ACCC to regulate water market conduct. This will ensure the ACCC can enforce the new mandatory code of conduct for water market intermediaries and enforce new market misconduct prohibitions.

  • $9.1 million over four years for the Inspector-General of Water Compliance to regulate market data. This will ensure enforcement of new water markets data requirements, which are critical to the success of the new integrity safeguards. The ACCC found that lack of information was a major barrier for transparency and compliance with existing laws.

  • $9.4 million over four years for the Department to implement the roadmap recommendations. This includes drafting necessary legislative amendments and preparing new legislation for the whole suite of water market reform measures

 In addition, the Bureau of Meteorology will receive funding of $1 million to scope the development of a National Water Data Hub which will improve national water information to provide industry with quality, timely and consistent data.

Water markets have become increasingly important as irrigation increases, water reliability falls, and the differences between high and low flows across the Basin become more extreme.

This investment will strengthen the Murray-Darling Basin water market and will enable greater checks and balances. This will also aid delivery of the Basin Plan.
The Australian Government will prioritise working collaboratively and cooperatively with Basin jurisdictions to achieve these commitments.
Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:
“Water markets reform will crack down on the cowboys of the system, and make sure it’s a level playing field for those doing the right thing. These reforms will deliver trust and certainty to irrigators and industry.
“Our investment of $31.6 million to deliver water market reform will go a long way to improve integrity, prohibit market manipulation and provides us with avenues to deal with instances of insider trading.
“As an example, the integrity reforms will include: prohibiting market misconduct, introducing a mandatory code for water market intermediaries, introducing mandatory rules and processes for water announcements and broadening and strengthening price reporting obligations.

“I look forward to working in collaboration with state and territory Basin Ministers to deliver this reform.”

Quotes attributable to the Australian Water Brokers Association Inc:
"The Australian Water Brokers Association (AWBA) has for several years actively supported and advocated for positive and proactive change in the regulation of all Australian Water Markets.
"Increased transparency and increased market confidence for the benefit of all water market participants has been at the core of the AWBA goals.

"The current funding announcements by the Federal Government are welcomed by the AWBA as a timely and critical step after over three years of water market inquiries, commencing the actual regulatory and system changes necessary to meet those goals."