Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s second ministry was sworn in last week, with a number of important appointments for the water sector.
Notably, the water and agriculture portfolios have been split, with Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie becoming the first female Minister for Agriculture.
Australian Water Association (AWA) Chief Executive Jonathan McKeown said the AWA looks forward to working with McKenzie in her new role.
“We will work with the Minister for Agriculture in relation to the continued high levels of water consumption required by our agricultural industries, and the difficult task of balancing the competing demands for water, from a socio-economic perspective and from the pressure for more environmental flows,” he said.
Former agriculture minister David Littleproud will serve as the Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management.
As Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will oversee the government’s $100 billion National Infrastructure Program.
This includes the National Water Grid, which will be established to deliver strategic planning and project management for water policy and water infrastructure.
McCormack will be assisted in this role by the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.
McKeown said Tudge will be a key minister for the water sector, particularly when it comes to the implementation of much-needed urban water reform.
“Linked to these challenges are the growing populations of our cities and the extra strain on available water sources,” McKeown said.
“There is an opportunity to undertake significantly more water recycling in our urban areas and to ensure we have sufficient water infrastructure to accommodate population growth.”
New South Wales MP Sussan Ley has replaced Melissa Price as environment minister. She will focus on practical and local environmental outcomes as well as waste reduction and recycling.
“We look forward to working with the Minister on sustainable water management and creating the most resilient environment for water management in Australia,” McKeown said.
Alongside Ley will be Trevor Evans, who has been named the first Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management.
In this role, Evans will focus on waste reduction and local environmental management.
Morrison has introduced the Pacific back into the ministry, naming Alex Hawke Minister for International Development and the Pacific.
This was previously an ‘assistant’ minister role, and McKeown said the AWA welcomed this appointment.
“The AWA looks forward to working with the new Minister on our international programs that promote and facilitate Australian water expertise across the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.