The Best Western Airport Motel and Convention Centre hosted the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Australian Water Brokers Association on the 27th November. With more than 35 members and guests, the meeting was well attended and a sign of strength and growth within the AWBA.

Tom Wilks, President of the AWBA, gave his Presidents’ Report, which highlighted the last 12 months and all that had been achieved, including steps toward self-regulation, growth in membership numbers and the various speakers from the previous two General Meetings and the topics discussed, including having Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce attend to address the membership. Mr Wilks also started to lay the seed for the upcoming year and all that the Executive Committee aims to achieve, including the continued growth of the Association, further strengthening relationships with State and Federal Government as well as inroads into self regulation.

After the reports from the President and the Treasurer, all Office Bearer positions were declared vacant, and votes cast for the election of upcoming Office Bearers. All current Office Bearers stood for re-election, except Adrian Peel, who has stood down as an Executive Committee Member.

The Office Bearers for the AWBA for the upcoming 12 months are:
President – Tom Wilks (re-elected)
Vice President – Duncan McDonald (re-elected)
Treasurer – Kris Brennan (re-elected)
Secretary – Lauren McCabe (re-elected)
Committee Member – Richard Carter (re-elected)
Committee Member – Matt Horne
Committee Member – Craig Feuerherdt
Committee Member – David Barthold

After the AGM component of the day, the meeting broke for lunch and on return, the Continuous Professional Development component commenced. Speakers on the day included:

  • Claire Hocking and Lisa Wong – Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • Bill Stanhope and Stuart McLachlan – Dept. Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Megan Utter and Natasha Shirvill – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
  • Simo Tervonen – Principal, Marsden Jacob Associates
  • Duncan McDonald – Vice President, AWBA and CEO/Director, National Water Brokers

Representatives from the the ATO focussed their presentation on the new Foreign Investment of Water Registry. This included a review of the ATO website, who must register, how to register and further regulatory requirements.

Mr Stanhope and Mr McLachlan led a rousing discussion on models for industry self-regulation, in which the membership were very interested in. The discussion centred on three topics:

  • Key elements of a self-regulation model including process for handling grievances.
  • Challenges and opportunities in establishing the model.
  • Other self-regulation models, and also requirements of Vic Water Registry and roles of ACCC and State Offices of Fair Trading and any Ombudsman.

The ACCC gave an overview of their role in water, in particular, its roles under the Water Act 2007 (Cth) and recent projects. They also covered their interest in competition and fair-trading issues in water markets under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and sought members’ views on strategy to raise awareness of fair trading rights and obligations in water markets.

Simo Tervonen from Marsden Jacob Associates and also Affiliate AWBA Members, have been granted $1 million via the BRII grant to create a water information hub and look to discuss the opportunities, along with possible collaboration with the AWBA and AWBA members.

Duncan McDonald fpresented on recent attacks on water brokers and their clients and how this can affect their business, as well as possible ways of protection.

The next meeting will be held in Adelaide on Monday 26th February, 2018. For more information, please contact the AWBA on 1300 568 668 or email us at [email protected].