Water Policy Reform

Water Policy Reform

Lessons in Sustainability from the Murray–Darling Basin

Edited by John Quiggin, Thilak Mallawaarachchi and Sarah Chambers

Agriculture in the Murray–Darling Basin of Australia represents a controversial ‘policy experiment’ comprising large capital investments, innovation and enterprise across a hundred-year period. This book, which contains contributions from some of Australia’s foremost economic, social science and public policy researchers and writers, examines the evolution of public policy frameworks that transformed water management from initial exploitation for irrigation as a dominant single use to a dynamic multiple use resource system.


Edited by John Quiggin, Thilak Mallawaarachchi and Sarah Chambers

Subjects: development studies, development studies, environment, environmental geography, management natural resources, water


The prevailing sentiment at the end of the Water Policy in the Murray– Darling Basin Workshop was expressed in limerick form by David Pannell. The message of the poem, generally shared by the attendees of the workshop and the authors of this book, best summarises the complex situation experienced during the 2010 water reform in the Murray–Darling Basin. THE MURRAY–DARLING BASIN PLAN: ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVES David J. Pannell School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Western Australia The river was filling and flowing The pastures and crops were a-growing The drought then began And now comes this Plan The farmers feel all hope is going A fight for ideals has exploded On one side the farmers feel goaded But others say please More water for trees The public debate has eroded Some say many jobs will be wiped Economists say, “That’s been hyped The doomsday is twaddle Just look at our model” But no one believes what we’ve typed 198 Columns Design XML Ltd / Job: Quiggin-Water_Policy_Reform / Division: 13Poem /Pg. Position: 1 / Date: 1/2 JOBNAME: Quiggin PAGE: 2 SESS: 3 OUTPUT: Fri Feb 10 09:39:43 2012 Poem 199 Some folks want the cash for construction For leaks in the old infrastruction But we’ve said for ages “The costs are outrageous They outweigh the job-loss reduction” The market’s the way to get water Just buy it, we think that you oughta It should be sufficient To know it’s efficient The cost...

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