Edited by Paula Kyrö
Chapter 6: Public servants as sustainability policy entrepreneurs in Australia: the issues and outcomes
Freshwater and its allocation between competing users and uses has always been conflict ridden, but the intensity of these conflicts has escalated in recent history because of increased urbanization, changes in diet, increased population and several local factors (Dirksen, 2002). The escalation of conflict in Australia has been the result of relatively recent policies since 1994 that require ecologically sustainable development (ESD) to be pursued. This in practice means that the environment is now a player and must be considered in water allocation processes (McKay, 2010). Australia has several well-developed state and national processes to incorporate this policy, and the technique selected is the regional water allocation plan. These are set up under several state laws and in practice require communication with existing water users as to setting limits on extraction to be within the ESD rule. For example in South Australia, which has the most comprehensible approach to water management in Australia, the water allocation plans are developed by the Natural Resources Management Board (NRMB) with significant contributions from the community in the region to address ESD principles of the Natural Resources Management Act, 2004 (Hughes and McKay, 2009). After several iterations based on community feedback the Minister for Environment and Conservation (currently Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation) approves the final plan for implementation by the NRMB. However there will be conflicts over reduced or changed water allocations as agreed on in the plan. This is where the role of sustainability policy entrepreneurs becomes important.
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