19 October 2010

Some of Australia’s top economists and scientists will this week attempt to unravel the complex issues that affect water management in the nation’s largest agricultural area.

The University of Queensland’s Risk and Sustainable Management Group (RSMG) is hosting a workshop on Thursday and Friday entitled “Water policy in the Murray-Darling Basin: Have we finally got it right?”

The workshop will cover a range of topics including the controversial Murray-Darling Basin Plan that aims to secure the long-term health of the Murray-Darling Basin and could see irrigation entitlement volumes cut by between 3000 and 4000 gigalitres.

Australian Research Council Federation Fellow and Director of RSMG Professor John Quiggin said the forum would bring together prominent contributors from academic, policy and practice disciplines to lead the discussion.

“The workshop is aimed to provide an in-depth analysis of water allocation issues in the Basin from a social policy perspective,” Professor Quiggin said.

“Our objective is to examine the competing economic and environmental considerations driving the policy debate under conditions of uncertainty and variability.

"Our task is to draw on differing viewpoints to distil the key influences that shaped the Murray-Darling Basin experience as a living experiment in social policy.”

According to the Murray Darling Basin Authority the Basin covers 14 per cent of the total area of Australia.

It receives an annual average rainfall of 530, 618 gigalitres and generates 39 per cent of the gross value derived from national agricultural production.

The Risk and Sustainable Management Group was formed in 2004 as part of an Australian Research Council funded Federation Fellowship research project and aims to improve the understanding of all aspects of the sustainable management of environmental resources.

The workshop is sponsored by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics – Bureau of Rural Sciences and the CSIRO’s Water for a Health Country Flagship program.

Media: Sarah Chambers (RSMG) 07 3365 6705