The Water Act is to be reviewed as part of the Abbott Government red and green tape reduction agenda and to ensure the Act is meeting its objectives.

Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, today announced the full terms of reference and members of the independent panel for the Review of the Commonwealth Water Act 2007.

“Our Government is committed to implementing the Murray Darling Basin Plan on time and in full, in a way that maximises the potential positive outcomes for both the environment and communities,” Senator Birmingham said.

“In line with our deregulation agenda, we are also eager to ensure the costs of compliance with all aspects of water management in the Basin Plan are minimised.

“The review will look at opportunities for simplifying the regulatory burden on both industry and water managers, consistent with our overall focus on cutting red tape.

“In line with our commitment to implementing the Basin Plan, the review will also consider how to improve the effectiveness of the Act in delivering on its objectives, in addition to the mandatory terms of reference required under the Act,” Senator Birmingham said.

This is the first review since the Act commenced in 2008 and is being conducted in line with the review requirements outlined in the Act.

An independent Expert Panel has been appointed to conduct the review and will be led by Mr Eamonn Moran PSM QC as Chair, supported by Mr Peter Anderson, Mr Gavin McMahon and Dr Steve Morton.

The Expert Panel has been appointed to bring the multidisciplinary perspective and expertise necessary to conduct the review, covering law, business regulation, water and environmental management, industry and science.

“As the Water Act supports the Government’s key water policy commitments, including the Murray Darling Basin Plan, it is appropriate to ensure it provides an effective framework for delivering these reforms into the future,” Senator Birmingham said.

“The Government also expects the Panel to make recommendations regarding the appropriate times to undertake the next review of the actual Basin Plan.

“When providing their expert advice, the Panel will also consider the views of States, interested parties and the community.  I encourage all interested parties to participate.

“The panel will meet for the first time this week and will call for public submissions shortly thereafter.

“I have asked the Panel to report to me by November 2014,” Senator Birmingham said.

In 2007 the Howard Government enacted the Water Act to ensure that Murray-Darling Basin water resources could be managed sustainably into the future; the Act has a legislated review, due for completion by the end of 2014.