Lyndal Hasselman

Lyndal Hasselman

Lyndal Hasselman, Australia.

Lyndal has worked in private consulting as an evaluator, in State and Commonwealth governments doing strategic planning and as a researcher. Most recently Lyndal has completed a PhD examining the compatibility of adaptive management and accountability arrangements of the Murray-Darling Basin. Her work remains motivated by the need for practical solutions and improvements in the way that water and other natural resources are managed by governments and community.

 

Presentation Topic: Watering the environment: Whose job is it anyway?

Governance of the Murray-Darling Basin is multilevel, networked and also market-based. The value of the water market has steadily grown and it is now one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world. The market has undoubtedly achieved efficiencies and has been instrumental in enabling government purchase and acquisition of water for environmental purposes, but at what cost? There are limits to use of market-based governance, such as a reinforcement of structural inequalities, a loss of decision making from the public realm through the invisible hand of the market, and a promotion of self-interest with gaming, conflict and a decline in altruism. These limits are all present in the Murray-Darling Basin water market. Many irrigators are finding it difficult to access information to support their decision making, with larger corporate farms seen as having the resources to dedicate to managing their water portfolios. There is industry restructure occurring as water is shifted to its highest economic value, as judged by individual water holders. The belief in speculators and gaming in the market is rife. The high value of water is reportedly preventing many irrigators from maintaining smaller private wetlands. Watering of wetlands and other environmental assets is now firmly the business of government. To date, the market has only been used to facilitate direct intervention and not to influence the behaviours of individuals in accordance with society’s objective of balanced economic, social and environmental outcomes. Giving a voice to the environment and regional communities in the market may require trade barriers and pricing signals. Although such options remain unpalatable to neoliberalists, these alternative policy mechanisms may allow social and environmental outcomes to be achieved at lesser cost and consequently, debate is necessary.

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