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Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group

​​​​​The Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group, established by the Prime Minister, has developed an Options Paper that explores processes to accelerate infrastructure investment and priorities for investment. This includes new or existing dams to assist in economic development, flood mitigation and responding to community and industry needs.

The right water infrastructure in the right place will help grow our economy, meet future challenges and manage this vital resource responsibly.

The Options Paper includes a shortlist of potential infrastructure projects identified by the working group following consultation with state and territory governments.

The list comprises a range of projects from around Australia, varying from projects that could be considered for possible Commonwealth capital investment to those that need further investigation into feasibility.


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What the working group looked at

The ministerial working group was required to:

  • identify how investment in water infrastructure, such as dams, could be accelerated, including methods for assessing feasibility and cost benefit analysis of particular proposals, the role of Infrastructure Australia, and financing
  • identify priorities for investment in new or existing dams, including the merit of proposals already well-developed and the productivity and/or economic benefits of new or existing dams
  • outline how proposed approaches will improve the management of Australia’s water resources to support economic development, flood mitigation and respond to community and industry needs
  • consider opportunities for ground water storage (aquifers), water reuse and water efficiency to ensure investment in dams occurs where it is the most suitable solution
  • take account of economic, social and environmental considerations, including consistency with National Water Initiative principles.

Members of the working group

  • Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Chair
  • Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Warren Truss MP
  • Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP
  • Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon. Jamie Briggs MP
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Bob Baldwin MP.

Working Group principles

To help determine whether a water infrastructure project warrants Commonwealth involvement, the Ministerial Working Group designed a set of principles. For a project to be considered for investment it needs to be consistent with the principles including:

  • Projects need to be nationally significant and in the national interest.
  • There must be strong state or territory government support with capital contribution and involvement of the private sector and where appropriate local government.
  • The investment will provide the highest net benefit of all options available to increase access to water, taking into account economic, social and environmental impacts.
  • Projects should address a market failure which cannot be addressed by proponents, state and territory governments or other stakeholders and limits a project of national significance from being delivered.
  • Projects should align with the Governments broader infrastructure agenda to promote economic growth and productivity or provides a demonstrable public benefit and addresses a community need.
  • Projects should align with the National Water Initiative principles including appropriate cost recovery and where full cost recovery is not deemed feasible, any subsidies are fully transparent to the community.
  • If providing capital, a consistent, robust analysis of costs and benefits and assessment is undertaken.

Who was consulted?

The working group consulted with state and territory governments to identify their priorities for water infrastructure projects.

Following completion of the Options Paper the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP chaired a roundtable in Canberra with more than eighty stakeholders to discuss the opportunities and barriers for investment in water infrastructure and dams.

How is the Options Paper feeding into the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and the White Paper on Development Northern Australian?

The short list of projects identified in the Options Paper were included in the Agricultural Competiveness Green Paper published on 20 October 2014. The Government will consider options for future investment in water infrastructure as part of the White Papers on Developing Northern Australia and Agricultural Competitiveness.


Last reviewed:
23 Sep 2015