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Governing the country « Previous | |Next »
July 17, 2003

Canberra is in winter recess and many of the politicians are taking a break. This space from the political hurly burly gives us a moment in which to reflect on governing the country in relation to the Murray-Darling Basin in the light of Ticky Fullerton's 4 Corners piece on the River Murray. That program was about governance--ensuring social change and water reform--- even if the issue of governance was not directly addressed.

It strikes me that the current mode of governance is a dead end as it is unable to perform the changes required to save the Murray-Darling River system that is now locked into the global economy. The current mode of governance is not delivering. There is a lot of talk, plans and meetings but the river's health continues to worsen.

I do not think that more of the same with tinkering at the edges (eg., reforming the Murray-Darling Basin Commission or its Ministerial Council), will give the necessary governance capacities.

And the view that markets, civil society and non-governmental organizations can compensate for, or fill this lack, strikes me as pie in the sky.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:18 PM | | Comments (1)


I wouldn't be quite so pessimistic Gary. It is true that the use of the Murray/Darling Basin is quite problematic, but it is also fair to say that it is a relatively recent phenomenon(in terms of the life of the river system)

With the problem beginning to feature on the radars of the major political parties, real action should be forthcoming relatively soon. There is a growing awareness of the problem with the electorate, but it is fair to say that we generally need a bit of a crisis to get off our bums.

As I commented in your previous post, the solution will eventually be found in Govts. extracting a higher price(in the form of an economic resource rent tax) in order to reflect a truer social cost of the water used. Any other approach will be pie in the sky.