Chapter 19: The Murray-Darling Basin
Managing Water in Multi-Layered Political Systems
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When it passed the Water Act (2007) the Australian national government took on a central role promoting water reform in the MurrayñDarling Basin (MDB). This development, which is a new stage in a long incremental process, has made the respective powers and responsibilities of the national and state jurisdictions in relation to water a frequent subject of public debate. A major point of interest is the use of water trading, not just to achieve economic benefits for entitlement holders, but as a strategy to achieve a complex set of connected reforms. As in many other countries water trading has been a central element in the Australian water reform program. An additional and unusual feature of the Australian example is that water trading is explicitly linked to efforts to achieve environmental sustainability. Other elements of the larger programme include comprehensive monitoring of a wide range of biophysical and economic issues and independent auditing of a range of issues. This is linked with efforts to promote public participation in water policy.

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