- Water brokers and exchanges play an important role in the water market by bringing buyers and sellers together. They each have responsibilities and rules they must follow.
- The Murray-Darling Basin Authority must get advice from the ACCC before it can amend the Basin Plan water trading rules.
What the ACCC does
- We publish guides to help water brokers, water exchanges and their customers to understand their fair trading responsibilities.
- We provide advice on the Basin Plan water trading rules to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
- We enforce the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, including the Australian Consumer Law. These apply to the behaviour of water brokers and water exchanges.
What the ACCC can't do
- We don’t set or enforce the Murray-Darling Basin Plan water trading rules. This is the responsibility of the Minister, on advice of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and the Inspector General of Water Compliance.
- We don’t enforce water trading rules made by state governments.
About water brokers and exchanges
Water brokers and exchanges are sometimes referred to as water market intermediaries.
They play an important role in the water market bringing buyers and sellers together, reducing search costs and improving information flows.
Water brokers perform a similar function to mortgage brokers. On behalf of their clients, they:
- investigate trading options
- arrange the necessary paperwork
- help obtain regulatory approvals.
Water exchanges are a trading platform. They:
- match buyers and sellers through an automated process or bulletin board
- organise and submit the necessary paperwork to trade approval authorities.
Guidance to help water brokers and water exchanges follow the law
The ACCC enforces the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, including the Australian Consumer Law. This applies to the behaviour of water brokers and exchanges.
Our water trading guidance can help water brokers and exchanges follow the law. It also helps people understand their rights when dealing with a water broker or water exchange.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is responsible for:
- the overarching planning of Murray-Darling Basin water resources
- developing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This includes water trading rules, which are enforced by the Inspector General of Water Compliance.
Before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority can amend the Basin Plan water trading rules, it must get advice from the ACCC.
The Australian Government plans to legislate new functions for the ACCC as the water market conduct regulator in the Murray-Darling Basin.
The new functions were recommended by the Water market reform roadmap which responded to the ACCC’s water markets inquiry. The new functions will include basin wide laws that address harmful market conduct, including through:
- bans on market manipulation
- stronger insider trading rules
- a mandatory code of conduct for water market intermediaries.
See the Water market reform roadmap for more information.