Council of Australian Governments
The role of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is to initiate, develop and monitor the implementation of policy reforms that are of national significance and which require cooperative action by Australian governments (e.g. water reform). See Council of Australian Government water reforms.
National Water Initiative
The National Water Initiative (NWI), agreed in 2004 by COAG, is the national blueprint for water reform.
The NWI is a shared commitment by governments to increase the efficiency of Australia's water use, leading to greater certainty for investment and productivity, for rural and urban communities, and for the environment.
Under the NWI, governments have made commitments to:
- prepare water plans with provision for the environment
- deal with over-allocated or stressed water systems
- introduce registers of water rights and standards for water accounting
- expand the trade in water
- improve pricing for water storage and delivery
- meet and manage urban water demands.
More than 40 Commonwealth–state ministerial councils and fora facilitate consultation and cooperation between the Australian Government and state and territory governments in specific policy areas.
Responsible ministers from each government participate in the councils. Ministerial councils would meet only once or twice a year, although they may regularly settle issues by correspondence.
Ministerial councils that address water resource management issues include the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council. This council has a policy, decision-making and advisory role in water resource management in the Murray-Darling Basin.