Australian drought

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Urgent need to rethink national water law and governance

17th May 2017

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Darren Sinclair is a DECRA Research Fellow at RegNet.

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RegNet’s Dr Darren Sinclair talks to ABC AM about the urgent need to rethink water law and governance.

Listen to the interview here.

Dr Sinclair speaks on behalf of a group of 13 academics and practitioners in Water Law, Governance and Regulation, who have made a joint formal submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the reform of Australia’s water resources sector.

The submission argues that ‘it is paramount that Australia maintains ‘good’ water law and governance given that the next few decades will see major increases in Australia’s population and food production (both dependent on water), as well as likely water scarcity due to droughts and climate change’.

The expert group assert that ‘although Australia has come a long way in water management under the National Water Initiative (NWI), the design and implementation of the NWI national reform does not appear sufficient to meet future water challenges’.

They identify a ten-point plan for a national water reform agenda:
1. Regulate the water market to ensure equity, enhance efficiency and protect the environment
2. Extend metering, monitoring and accounting
3. Go beyond the limits of the market, especially for managing groundwater
4. Reform water buy backs
5. Develop new systems for dealing with cumulative impacts
6. Protect environmental water
7. Implement strategic planning
8. Improve models and tools for participation in water governance
9. Ensure full recognition of Indigenous interests
10. Capitalise on successes and avoid past mistakes if northern development is pursued

You can read the full submission here.

This work builds on the outputs of a workshop held in December 2015 at the University of New South Wales, hosted by Cameron Holley and Darren Sinclair, which brought together key experts in water law, regulation and governance. The workshop led to a Special Issue of the Environmental Planning and Law Journal, with an introduction by Holley and Sinclair, freely available here.

Holley and Sinclair are anticipating the publication of their edited book “Reforming Water Law and Governance”, by Springer, New York, later this year.

For more information please contact Darren Sinclair: darren.sinclair@anu.edu.au

Updated:  12 February 2016/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet