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2019 Winter - A thirst for certainty; irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin

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FPJ1602B - Alexandra, J (2019), Water insecurity and Australian agriculture – the policy and climate risks

Alexandra, J (2019), Water insecurity and Australian agriculture – the policy and climate risks, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 16, no. 2, Winter 2019, pp. 4-13, Surry Hills, Australia.

Irrigated agriculture is the major water user in Australia. Reliable high-value production enabled by irrigation contributes significantly to the value of agricultural production yet there are deep uncertainties about how future water availability will be affected by climate change, with repeated warnings about drier futures for southern and eastern Australia. This paper explores issues of water insecurity in Australian irrigated agriculture from the perspective of the policy and climate risks. For example, Australia’s National Water Initiative aims to increase water security for water entitlement holders but also assigns risks to water security arising from climate change and changes in policy settings. Focusing mostly on recent reforms to water policy, it looks at how issues of security are defined and addressed in the Murray-Darling Basin. The paper outlines ideas about water security through supply-side engineering before exploring how climate and policy reforms have altered ideas about water security. However, with climatic sources of water (rain) the key but uncontrollable variable, in future water security, it seems that learning to adapt, may be the best responses to the eradicable uncertainty and irreducible risks induced by a changing climate.



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