Report on Agricultural policy issue in Australia

Title: A report on Agricultural policy issue in Australia

Subject Name: Agriculture and Resource Policy

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As the urban population of Australia grows, the Australian cities need to have a greater focus on the recycled along with storm water for both the purposes such drinking water and also maintaining an open green space. This concern has been raised because of ineffective water policy controlled by the Australian government. Hence, in this context, water policy issue has been the major concern to be analysed in this report. As per the Productivity Commission, the overarching water policy of Australia seems to be outdated and struggles for meeting the climate and population challenges without a primary overhaul. This water policy brings injustice as well that runs deep across Australia. It is widely understood that wetlands, rivers, and other waterways hold a specific significance for the First Nations people. It is less well understood that the indigenous people have been denied effective rights in water economy of Australia. The Australian Water Policy is to be provided significant attention because their ineffective water policy has brought up two major concerns in Australia that is injustice with the indigenous people and inability of policy to meet population with climate challenges. The reason behind profiling this in the media is followed by the involvement of Productivity Commission, which examines the current NWI (National Water Initiative) of Australia that is found to be struggling.


Brief background

Expanding the brief background of the selected policy issue reflects some new insights, for instance, even though the NWI (National Water Initiative) guided Australian state, territory, and federal water management with policy for towns and cities, environment, and agriculture, yet Australian water policy gets failed in maintaining the productivity level to deal with population and climate challenges. As per the review of Australian NWI, it is identified that the new framework of water policy needs to face some drastic challenges related to climate change. Apart from this, The Productivity Commission reveals that the indigenous people holds even less than one percent of the water rights of Australia. The report published by Productivity Commission into national water policy revealed the demands of First Nations, specifying that the Traditional Owners are aspiring to get much greater access, along with control over the water resources. The people of First Nation have no say about how use of water is carried out in Australia, which denies them the power for preventing water extraction, which could damage the landscapes and communities.

Tensions associated with the policy

With this ineffective, unproductive, partial, and unjustifiable water policy of Australia, tensions, stresses, and concerns can easily be found getting associated with this policy. For instance, as it has already been declared by the Productivity Commission that with the current Water Policy framework, Australia needs to be ready to face drastic challenges, which is itself a tension for the Australian people and its economic condition as well. Tension reflects that the people living in city do not have any tendency towards water saving approach or 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle). For sustaining the groundwater use, an effective and careful water management for conserving aquifers seems to be needed together with the exploitation of opportunities for an enhanced groundwater recharge (3). Tension is related to lack of water planning and water management across the major cities of Australia, even the indigenous people as compared to other Australian people do not have more input into water rights. Tension reflects that the indigenous people face discrimination even in terms of water rights; they are excluded from various Australian agricultural wealth that is tied to access to water for irrigation purpose.

Identification of major players and how they seek to influence the policy

The primary players in this ineffectiveness, injustice, and unproductive water policy are the Australian government, the COAG (The Council of Australian Governments), The Commonwealth Government, The Ministry for Climate Change and Water, the policy maker and regulator, and the Department of Industry-Water or DoI Water. For instance, The COAG plays a role in reforming the water policy that requires cooperative actions by the Australian Governments (4). All of them contributes in influencing the respective policy, for instance, a large number of the Australian Government councils play a major role whenever it comes to drive the water reform agenda of Australia. Thus, their power and position can bring any changes to the water reform policy or agenda as per their demands and requirements, for example the Australian Government aims for continuing the journey of water reform, ensuring the best practice management of water resource. In some Andean regions, over allocation or misallocation of water by the Australian Governments have been increasing at odds with both environmental water, aquatic habitat protection requirements and the needs of indigenous people for exercising their rights for the consumptive usage (5). In this way, Governments influence the water reforms policy.


How the policy addresses the issue of equity

This policy addresses the issue of equity by highlighting the current scenario of Australian laws and policies. For instance, these policies and laws prevent the indigenous people from completely participating in, along with benefitting from, the decisions of water. This reflects inequality approach by the Australian government towards the First Nations People as compared to other Australian community. In fact, the First nation people hold only or even less than 1% of the Australian water rights, this again reflects the equality issue faced by the indigenous people (2). As per the Productivity Commission, Australian cities must have a considerable focus over recycled with stormwater since the Australian population grows, which reflects that the city people of Australia might lack a greater sense of water conservation. Comparing this point with the previous one, in one side, indigenous people carry only 1% of water rights, and on the other side, city people are provided with that much input into water rights, which leads them to misuse or overuse water. According to the Commission, Australian governments approach lacks ambition and would surely ensure water injustice continues for being denied to the First Nations. In many cases, indigenous people are unable to fulfil their responsibility towards care for their own nation because of not having power to prevent water extraction. Another example of inequity showcases that indigenous people are around 10% of the total population, yet they comprise just 3.5% of the Australian agricultural workforce.

How the policy achieves improved economic outcomes

Formulation of a system-wide water-policy being long-lasting and progressive needs access to the best-available information and data such as markets (6). Currently, the present water policy framework of Australia fails to achieve better economic outcomes; however, the expected framework could achieve the better economic outcomes for both the First Nation people and the Australian overall growth. It is identified that the NWI, which is a blueprint for water reforms that the Australian Government signs, committed towards consulting with the Traditional owners in Water Planning, accounting for the native title rights to water along with cultural values in water plan. However, the Commission Report reflects that the progress towards the above commitments seems to be slow, since the objectives could have not fully been achieved. Hence, the renewed NWI could address the problem of the states by approving primary projects based on water infrastructure. In addition, these projects do not have any match with the major principles of being assessed as both ecologically sustainable and economically viable prior to the financial investment occurring. Hence, the expected although slow-paced economic outcomes would be for the First Nation people, who could further raise their voice and deserve justice.

How this policy achieves effective trade-offs among those affected

Since, mostly the affected people are the First Nation People, thus if the renewed NWI with reformed water policy could be brought into the Australian Water policy, then this community would highly be benefitted. Watershed management has specific equity challenges since the interventions could have a trade-off across scale such as upstream storage could reduce downstream of water availability (7). Thus, economically-well water policy could effectively fund indigenous organizations, which could be traded away their water rights for keeping afloat, and would make it possible for buying the water back. Possible trade-offs and water saving opportunities could be searched for in-between the energy and agricultural sectors with respect to future use of water. Effective water policy helps in accompanying international product trade as well, for instance, grey, green and blue water consumption for the agricultural products through production on national level would help the respective country to carry out trade-offs. In addition, these agricultural products based irrigation with water consumption approach seek to involve the First Nation People. The Mineral Councils state that the geological and geographical constraints leave a barrier towards imposing existing rules of water entitlement on mining projects. However, most of the areas, the mining industry operates in seem to be suitable for trading and water markets.

How the same policy aligns with other economic, social, and environmental development

There needs to a greater cooperation between public water policy, and market-oriented energy/trade/water policy for reducing inequalities in accessing of water (8). The Australian Government needs to take a step towards a greater parity via the managed phased-out based on private-energy subsidies for desalination for reducing the incentives for overexploitation. However, in terms of social development, the reformed or renewed water initiative along with water policy could give more inputs of water rights to the First Nations people, hence then this community could also participate in the Australian agricultural wealth. Hence, their participation could benefit them financially, socially, and mentally as well. In this manner, social development could be achieved or aligned with the reformed policy. In terms of environmental development, current dams seem to be inadequate, thus reformation, repair, and replenishment of these dams could help in protecting the cultural heritage of Australia. Furthermore, the Australian, specifically the NSW government, if plans to raise the investment in constructing the dam, which could save 1200 indigenous cultural sites. However, statutory protections are required for heading off this proposal. In terms of economic development, once the involvement of First Nation people could be considered in the agricultural sector, then the overall agricultural revenue held by this community would also contribute in making Australian economic situation stable. Water entitlements and infrastructure need to be included into the part of the Native Title Act, thus it could attract investors to invest in Australian water management initiatives.


Overall findings

The overall findings reflect that the current water management system of Australia lacks justifiable government support. There seems to be a huge number of inequalities and discrimination between the First Nations people and people living in Australian cities. The current water policy framework has a greater chance to face climate change challenges with population growth.

Critically assessing how it is covered in the media

This issue has been well covered in the media in terms of negative aspects, however in terms of positive aspect, what actually this policy has been contributing to the Australian economy is lacking. Thus, after critically assessing the news presence in the media, it can be stated that a specific attention has been provided to the First Nation people, whose rights have also been covered. However, a few perspectives regarding the same issue could also be offered in the media.

One recommendation about how the issue could be developed by future policy

It is recommended to the respective water policy makers to have a more focus on the significance of the respective community controlling along with managing their own water resources. Furthermore, it is recommended to the same government to educate the Australian city people about recycling and how to use stormwater. In addition, it is further recommended that the respective community needs to have more input into their water rights.

Justification of findings

The overall findings are justifiable enough because it is widely observed that the indigenous people face a huge inequality and discrimination from the Australian government. This can easily be proven by the percentage of rights that they have in terms of Australia water rights, their involvement in Australias agricultural wealth.




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