QWRAP commenced in response to three national reviews of the urban water sector undertaken independently by different Commonwealth agencies in 2011. All three were critical of the Queensland industry structure. The review by Infrastructure Australia (IA) was the most extreme and recommended sweeping changes to the Queensland and NSW local government water sectors including the potential for privatisation. The review organised by the National Water Commission was limited to smaller service providers also recommended reform of Queensland’s regional services.
The third report by the Productivity Commission (PC) allowed for more industry consultation and a full response was collated by qldwater with a complementary response provided by LGAQ. The PC inquiry was more thorough than the other reviews and acknowledged the necessary diversity of water management approaches nationally. Nevertheless, it still called for restructuring the Queensland regional industry:
"There is a strong case for undertaking aggregation of small water and wastewater utilities in regional areas of New South Wales and Queensland. The precise approach — including identification of affected councils and the preferred grouping of councils — should be assessed and determined by relevant State Governments, in consultation with Local Governments and affected communities. This process should consider the relative merits of alternative organisational structures, including county council, regional water corporation or regional alliance (or regional organisation of councils)."
Since the 2011 reviews there have been further calls for reform in regional Queensland and country NSW often including support for benefits of privatisation and private investment. For example:
“regional delivery models, formal infrastructure agreements between bodies, and consolidation of local governments, especially in New South Wales and Queensland".
“most of Australia’s water assets are publicly owned including $50 billion to $60 billion of water infrastructure suitable to be transferred to the private sector”.
National Water Commission 2014: "Urban water reform needs to be accelerated".
AWA Water Journal 2015 : Series of opinion pieces by McKeown, Schott, Cade, and Hillis and Fonti.
Matthews (ATSE Focus) 2015 : “there is no intrinsic reason why water supply to urban communities should be largely run by the public sector rather than the private sector”.
Harper Review 2015 : “Governments should focus on strengthening economic regulation in urban water and creating incentives for increased private participation in the sector through improved pricing practices”.
"State and territory governments should undertake an independent audit of the performance, financial viability and capacity constraints of local councils to identify areas of highest risk. In New South Wales and Queensland, these audits should inform pathways to more sustainable models."
"Governments should define a pathway to transfer state-owned metropolitan water utility businesses to private ownership to deliver more cost-effective, customer-responsive services."
Productivity Commission 2018 : “The Governments of New South Wales and Queensland should consider the merits of aggregation of regional water utilities, case-by-case [...] where the expected benefits of horizontal aggregation do not outweigh the costs, governments should consider the case for establishing regional alliances".
Aither 2019 : Urban Water Reform Roadmap
Productivity Commission 2020 : Triennial Review of National Water Initiative.