The federal government is cracking down on shonky practices in the trading of water.

Federal water minister Tanya Plibersek has announced $12 million will be provided to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to police and implement the roadmap for water market reform, after a report by the ACCC in 2021 found numerous examples of harmful market conduct.

The probe uncovered cases of market manipulation, insider trading and a lack of transparency by water brokers, which meant trades in the market and the prices being paid were often not visible to all market participants.

The government says it is working to implement the ‘Water Market Reform: Final Roadmap Report’ – which should improve the functioning and governance of water markets and improve overall confidence.

The Reform Roadmap recommendations are split into 4 sections: Integrity and transparency, Data and systems, Market architecture and Governance.

The government’s funding includes:

  • $12 million over four years to the ACCC to regulate water market conduct. This will ensure the ACCC can enforce the new mandatory code of conduct for water market intermediaries and enforce new market misconduct prohibitions

  • $9.1 million over four years for the Inspector-General of Water Compliance to regulate market data. This should ensure enforcement of new water markets data requirements, which are critical to the success of the new integrity safeguards

  • $9.4 million over four years for the Department to implement the roadmap recommendations, including drafting necessary legislative amendments and preparing new legislation for the whole suite of water market reform measures

In addition, the Bureau of Meteorology will receive funding of $1 million to scope the development of a National Water Data Hub which will improve national water information to provide industry with quality, timely and consistent data.

“Water markets reform will crack down on the cowboys of the system, and make sure it’s a level playing field for those doing the right thing. These reforms will deliver trust and certainty to irrigators and industry,” Ms Plibersek said.