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NWC Abolition Bill passed by Senate

14 May 2015

The passing of the National Water Commission (Abolition) Bill through Parliament has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

The Bill, passed by the Senate yesterday, will transfer key responsibilities of the National Water Commission (NWC) to the Productivity Commission.

Chair of the NFF Water Taskforce Les Gordon said he was pleased the Government had heeded NFF’s call for continued independent oversight of water reform following the announcement last year that the NWC would be abolished.

The NFF thanked Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Bob Baldwin and Senator Simon Birmingham on the passage of the legislation.

The key amendments to the Bill advocated by the NFF and secured with the assistance of the crossbench will ensure that:

• The Productivity Commissioners responsible for water assessments and audits will have specific expertise in water resource management.
• The Productivity Commission adopts a balanced approach to assessing water reform against social, economic and environmental outcomes.
• The Productivity Commission adopts a collaborative approach to working with stakeholders when undertaking its assessments and audits.
“These amendments mean that all stakeholders can have confidence in the independent umpire of water reform,” Mr Gordon said.

“For 10 years the NWC has upheld its position as the independent umpire for water reform. It has maintained the confidence of stakeholders in delivering its functions, and in the vexed policy area of water reform – this is an outstanding feat.

“I thank the Commissioners and staff of the NWC past and present and wish them well in their future endeavours. We have been privileged to work with this team over the past 10 years, and look forward to continuing to promote our shared desire for sensible and balanced water reform as they move on to new roles in the water sector and beyond.

“The NFF looks forward to working with the Productivity Commission as it builds its capability to conduct assessments and audits of water reform in the future,” Mr Gordon said.

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