Section 100 and State Water Rights

19 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2014

See all articles by John Williams

John Williams

University of Adelaide; University of Adelaide - School of Law

Adam Webster

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government

Date Written: 2010


The question of a State’s right to water from rivers that cross interstate boundaries or form the boundary between two States of Australia is one which has remained unresolved since before Federation. This article examines the drafting history behind s 100 of the Constitution – the only section within the Constitution to deal with water rights. The article outlines the limited judicial consideration given to s 100 and concludes that if there is a right to water from interstate rivers as between States, then s 100 is not the source of such a right. In doing so, the recent case of Arnold v Minister Administering the Water Management Act 2000 is considered. Finally, this paper identifies some of the unanswered questions regarding interstate water rights.

Keywords: interstate water rights, interstate rivers, transboundary rivers, water rights

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Williams, John and Webster, Adam, Section 100 and State Water Rights (2010). (2010) 21 PLR 267; U. of Adelaide Law Research Paper No. 2014-08. Available at SSRN:

John Williams

University of Adelaide ( email )

No 233 North Terrace, School of Commerce
Adelaide, South Australia 5005

University of Adelaide - School of Law ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005

Adam Webster (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government ( email )

10 Merton St
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4JJ
United Kingdom

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