Murray-Darling Plan Doomed to Fail

That’s the conclusion of a recent depressing report from the Wentworth Group. There is, of course, an “unless”, but having spent decades of my professional life on this issue, I can’t say I’m hopeful. Certainly, there’ll be no progress under the current government, as this issue is now part of the culture wars. Whether Labor will do any better, I don’t know. Here’s the comment I provided to the Australian Science Media Centre.

The depressing outcomes reported by the Wentworth Group are the inevitable result of the policy decision to abandon buybacks, that is, the voluntary purchase of water entitlements from irrigators who are willing to sell those entitlements. Buybacks are by far the most cost-effective method of securing additional water for the environment as well as providing a direct benefit to farmers, who can use the proceeds to reinvest in dryland agriculture or to assist a transition out of agriculture. The abandonment of buybacks, combine with a failure to address the needs of irrigation-focused communities in the Basin represents the worst of all policy worlds.

28 thoughts on “Murray-Darling Plan Doomed to Fail

  1. Developments in irrigation have been driven by a scarcity and/or cost of water and Israel, Australia and the US have been in the forefront of those developments. Each region has its own particulars – in Australia much of the water simply dissipates into the desert – a function of topography and climate.

    But thats not the end of it, there are many other variables that contribute to availability of good water. The evidence appears to indicate that despite relatively minor interventions in Australia the water is drying up. Despite production far exceeding domestic consumption irrigators will continue to be an unhappy lot.

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