Recent water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin has been strongly influenced by neo-liberal principles. Introduced in the 1990s the water market allowed irrigators to reduce the potential impact of a severe drought in the 2000s. It also made it possible for governments to purchase large volumes of water to slow the decline in resource security and the riverine environment, albeit through large payments for water entitlements handed out near free of cost earlier in the twentieth century. But the strength of neo-liberal perspectives among policy makers and the public is making it increasingly difficult to argue for programs that promote sustainability and resilience in anticipation of climate change when they conflict with profitability. Neoliberal purchaser-provider arrangements are also at the core of the Commonwealth Water Act 2007. It gives the national government control of high-level policy and states will be rewarded financially for implementing plans developed within its framework. This chapter predicts, however, that the distinction between purchaser and provider will collapse in the event of serious tension between the national government and the states because national government members of parliament are unlikely to allow serious financial penalties to be inflicted on voters in their state based electorates.
|Title of host publication||Australian Public Policy: Progressive ideas in the neoliberal ascendency|
|Editors||Chris Miller and Lionel Orchard|
|Place of Publication||Bristol and Chicago|
|Publisher||The Policy Press|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|