26 March 2021

ACCC Murray Darling Basin water markets inquiry report release


Joint media release with
The Hon Keith Pitt MP
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia

The Morrison-McCormack Government has today released the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) final report of the Murray-Darling Basin Water Markets Inquiry.

On 8 August 2019, the Government directed the ACCC to undertake a public inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin water markets.

The ACCC was asked to recommend options to enhance markets for tradeable water rights, including options to enhance their operations, transparency, regulation, competitiveness and efficiency.

The report is a comprehensive investigation into the governance, architecture and operation of Murray–Darling Basin water markets and was developed using extensive research and community input over an 18 month period.

The report makes 29 recommendations centred on:

  • Market integrity and conduct
  • Trade processing and water market information
  • Market architecture, and
  • Governance of Basin water markets.

The recommendations are wide ranging and with around 90 per cent involving coordination with Basin states, it will require unified action from all levels of governments to consider and implement the recommendations.

With the finalisation of the Inquiry, the Australian Government will now engage with Basin jurisdictions and key stakeholders to ensure that the response supports water users and communities and that the reforms are feasible, cost-effective and achieve greater harmonisation across state borders. The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said water was the lifeblood of communities in the Murray-Darling Basin.

“Basin water markets are critical to the productivity of Australian agriculture and the livelihoods of our basin communities,” the Treasurer said.

“The ACCC report highlights the importance of ensuring that water markets work effectively from information quality and access, to rules and governance, to trading behaviours and processes.

Minister Pitt said the Government is already progressing reforms that address some of the ACCC report recommendations including investing $5.4 million in a single source water information platform to improve access to water information.

“We will also be developing new legislation to strengthen compliance and establish a statutory position of Inspector-General of Water Compliance Bill.”

Murray–Darling Basin water markets are worth about $1.8 billion a year and provide substantial benefits to water users in generating income through selling water and through productive use of the resource to grow food and fibre.

The Australian Government is committed to working with states and territories to continue to invest and improve water management now and into the future.

The Government thanks the ACCC for their work in undertaking the review.

The report is available on the ACCC website.