Additional Comments by Senator Xenophon
All levels of government have a duty to manage water in a responsible
way. It is our most critical resource. Likewise, there are considerable
advantages to national prosperity from increased investments in stormwater
management across all levels of government.
I commend the Chair and the entire Committee for acknowledging the
important role the Australian Government can play in coordinating a national
policy, a National Stormwater Initiative (NSI), to assist state and local
governments and industry stakeholders with a regulatory framework aimed at
achieving economic and environmental benefits through the increased utilisation
It is vital that the NSI provides ample authority and incentive for state
and local governments to comply with the policy and regulatory framework.
The dominance of state-owned water monopolies, with a focus on water
supply and sanitation can and do act to distort policy settings and lead to
inefficient investments in the medium and long term. Furthermore, and as
highlighted by Dr Peter Dillion, 'monopoly positions of state owned water
utilities' act as barriers to entry for private sector investment in stormwater
The costs of failed and inadequate stormwater planning and resourcing
for it, are borne by the nation as a whole via the direct costs of flood recovery,
clean-up, higher insurance premiums, riparian management, and of course water
security. Climate change poses a number of growing threats which are best
managed through pro-active planning and co-investment. Stormwater needs to play
a key role in the water security of Australia, and with it deliver a whole
range of other benefits. In addition to the Committee's recommendations,
other recommendations need to be considered as follows:
As part of the development of the National Stormwater Initiative, the
Australian, state and territory governments consider new funding models and
financial incentives that would facilitate improved stormwater management
outcomes in an economically efficient way.
The funding model should include:
appropriate amounts of funding from state government resources to
establish the National Stormwater Initiative, including but not limited to funding
from water utilities and state-owned water corporations;
adequate contributions from dividends and environmental charges
collected from state water utilities to sustain the National Stormwater
Initiative and provide funding for future stormwater infrastructure and
mechanisms to ensure that 'cost shifting' and the transfer of
responsibility between agencies is avoided.
Australia has an enviable reputation internationally for its extensive
experience and leading edge technologies used to manage stormwater. A national
approach will assist export potential in markets such as China, which has a
multi‑billion dollar program to manage runoff as part of its sponge city
program. A national approach to support the export of technology and
knowhow will create growth and employment opportunities for Australia.
That the Australian Government work with industry and other stakeholders
to develop pathways to local and export markets for a range of intellectual and
physical stormwater-related products.
Independent Senator for South
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