ACCC role in water

The ACCC has legislated functions regarding enforcement, price setting, monitoring and reporting in water markets.

ACCC functions in water

Under the Water Act 2007 (the Water Act) and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (the CCA), the ACCC has six functions in water:

  • enforce water market rules and water charge rules under the Water Act
  • enforce the CCA with water brokers, exchanges and irrigation infrastructure operators
  • monitor and report on regulated charges and compliance with water market and water charge rules
  • determine regulated charges
  • provide advice to the Commonwealth minister responsible for water on development of water market rules and water charge rules
  • advise the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) on the development of water trading rules.

See also: Legislation

Enforcing the water rules

The ACCC is the enforcement agency for the water market rules and water charge rules. The ACCC has prepared guides to assist understanding of the water market rules and water charge rules, and how it will enforce these rules.

See: Water guides

Any infringement notices imposed or undertakings received are held on a public register.

See: Undertakings (Water Act s.163)

Water charge rules July 2020

New water charge rules take effect in July 2020.

See: Water charge rules

Enforcing the CCA

The ACCC enforces the CCA and the Australian Competition Law (ACL) in water markets.

The ACCC publishes guides which may assist water brokers, exchanges and irrigation infrastructure operators and their customers to understand their fair trading obligations.

See: Water brokers & water trading

Monitoring and reporting

The ACCC is required to provide the Minister for Sustainability, Environment Water, Population and Communities (the minister) with reports on the results of its monitoring, consistent with this memorandum of understanding between the minister and the ACCC:
ACCC monitoring under the Water Act 2007 ( PDF 368.17 KB )

The ACCC may also provide publicly release reports on topical issues relating to the water sector.

See: Water monitoring & reporting

Determining regulated charges

Under the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010 (WCIR), the ACCC can approve or determine regulated charges in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) of an infrastructure operator who is not a member-owned operator and holds water entitlements of its own or its customers in excess of 250 GL (a Part 6 operator).

The WCIR also allows the ACCC to accredit arrangements under which the Part 6 operator’s regulated charges are approved or determined by a State agency. The ACCC has accredited the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and the Essential Services Commission (Victoria) to approve and determine prices in NSW and Victoria respectively.

See: Water projects

Preparing policy advice on water rules

Under the the Water Act, the minister may make water market rules and water charge rules. Before making or amending these rules, the minister must ask the ACCC for advice.

The following water market rules and water charge rules were made by the minister:

See: Water projects – for current and finalised policy advice requests

The minister has made changes to water charge rules following ACCC advice.

See: New water charge rules from July 2020

Providing advice for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Under the Water Act, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) must prepare a Basin Plan which includes provisions on water trading. Before the MDBA can make water trading rules it must obtain and have regard to the advice of the ACCC. These water trading rules are enforced by the MDBA.

See: Water trading rules: advice development

Submissions by the ACCC

On occasion, the ACCC provides submissions to external water consultation processes:

Submissions by the ACCC

Make a complaint or seek more information

If you feel that one of your rights has been breached, that an operator or broker is not complying with the rules or you would like more information:

Phone: 1300 302 502
Fax: (03) 9290 3699
Mail: Water Branch
GPO Box 520

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