Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Productivity Commission final report into Australia's urban water sector

12 October 2011

The Productivity Commission report on Australia's urban water sector has been released today.

The report follows a year-long inquiry established to consider the case for further reform in the sector.

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, said the urban water sector plays an important role in providing the vast majority of drinking water, recycled water and wastewater services in Australia.

"The sector employs 40,000 people in more than 250 utilities and local governments, delivering secure, good quality water supplies for Australian households and industries," he said.

The Productivity Commission found that efficiency gains are likely to come from a range of areas, such as improving the performance of institutions, transparent and consistent regulation, and competitive procurement of supply and pricing, with the benefits of reform expected to flow to consumers and communities.

Senator Farrell said that as Australian cities continue to grow and rainfall patterns are more uncertain, long term water security is a high priority that cannot be achieved by relying on rainfall alone.

"In the face of severe drought the Australian Government has helped support state, territory and local governments as they acted to secure their communities' water needs," he said.

"Inflows into dams and reservoirs fell significantly during the drought. Governments responded with water efficient technologies and new projects to ensure rainfall-independent water supplies.

"The Australian Government is committed to working closely with the states and territories on water reform and this report will help to map out a plan for future water management priorities.

"Securing safe and affordable urban water supplies is an ongoing and long-term objective for us all.

"I was pleased to see that so many individuals, businesses and organisations from all over Australia participated in the inquiry, with 167 submissions being received."

The Productivity Commission inquiry to identify future opportunities for improved efficiency in the sector was established as part of the Council of Australian Government's water reform program, agreed by all state and territory governments.

"The report provides a useful contribution to further discussion with the states and territories on the next steps in building a future national work program for water reform," Senator Farrell said.

The report can be downloaded at: