Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Water Reform Needs to Be Back on the National Agenda

By Ken Matthews

Our national water research effort is fragmented, non-strategic and lacks leadership.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Stimulated by the millennium drought, Australia made great progress over the early years of this century in reforming and improving the way we manage our precious national water resources. That reform progress has now ground to a halt. Because the seasons in most areas of Australia have been much better, the attention of governments has shifted to other policy problems.

But in Australia, the next drought is never far away and much remains to be done to manage our water resources better. The governments of Australia need to work together to develop a new decadal strategy to tackle the next generation of water reforms. The Commonwealth and state governments need to rebuild national collaborative processes, institutions and incentives to restore momentum to the water reform process.

Changes to government policies, programs and legislation are central to the necessary changes to water management in Australia, but the Council of Australian Governments no longer pays serious attention to water reform issues. Key institutions driving reform have been abolished or had their budgets cut. Incentives for the state governments to resume progress in reforms no longer exist.

New reform processes therefore need to be built. One possibility would be for the Commonwealth Government to define specific state-by-state water reforms it would like to see undertaken by...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.