WSAA welcomes the release of the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on National Water Reform. The report provides a strong case for continuing with national reform in the urban water industry.
Adam Lovell, Executive Director of WSAA said ‘While the NWI is not perfect it is one of the only water management plans at a national level anywhere in the world. Recommitting to and renewing the NWI will ensure we avoid the difficulties faced by the energy sector through a lack of planning’.
The Commission recognises that urban water reform is unfinished business. It has agreed with WSAA’s call for improvements to economic regulation to promote efficient delivery of services to customers. It has also recognised that the greatest challenges to cost recovery are in regional areas. However, we note that metropolitan utilities also face similar challenges.
Adam Lovell, Executive Director of WSAA said ‘Australian water utilities are among the best performing in the world. However, national reform is necessary to address the challenges posed by rapid population growth and climate change to affordably meet the long term needs of our customers and the community’.
The Commission recommends that there should be greater clarity between the roles of government as policy maker and shareholder, and that of utilities. The Tasmanian Government’s proposals to unwind past governance reforms are the clearest evidence of the need for an agreed national approach (find WSAA’s submission here). The Commission also cites cases where government policy has ruled out viable water security measures including potable reuse.
WSAA supports the Commission’s recommendation for a more outcomes focussed approach to environmental regulation and removing the impediments to integrated water cycle management could also deliver better outcomes for the environment and for customers. ‘Stormwater is poorly integrated into the urban water cycle and now is the time to recognise the improvements that could be made by providing the right institutional, governance and pricing arrangements’ Mr Lovell said.
To progress reform, WSAA strongly supports the Commission’s recommendation to negotiate a new national water initiative between the states and commonwealth government. Mr Lovell said ‘I congratulate the Commission on its draft report and the urban water industry looks forward to contributing to a new national water initiative that can be delivered by 2020’.
WSAA’s submission in response to the Productivity Commission’s Issues Paper on National Water Reform in April can be found on our website here.