Lost in translation: Where is the social justice in Australian water reform?

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This thesis explores how principles of social justice are incorporated into Australian water reform by investigating government intentions, implementation (at Commonwealth, state and local levels) and perceptions of government and stakeholders. Australia is currently undergoing fundamental and far-reaching reforms in water management, which became a source of frustration and anger in rural communities during the millennium drought.A semi-quantitative content analysis of eight key water reform documents was used to establish government intentions regarding social justice in water reform. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 61 respondents who included government officials from all levels of government, landholders and local stakeholders, scientists and Aboriginal elders. A Social Justice Framework (SJF) was developed as a foundation for the content analysis and interviews. To narrow the focus of the thesis, social justice was evaluated in terms of three stakeholder groups: the environment, landholders and Aboriginal people, in two specific sites: the Lowbidgee Floodplain in NSW and the Chowilla Floodplain in SA.The intention of the government is to distribute water resources primarily based on the needs of different stakeholders, as well as on efficiency and equity. In order to ensure procedural justice, Australian governments seek to establish decision-making processes that are transparent, consistent, rely on scientific input and mandate stakeholder input while leaving ultimate decision-making power with the government. Governments have also diversified the number of water stakeholders whose views and values must be considered to include government entities, communities, the wider public, Aboriginal, environmental and industry representatives.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Syme, Geoff, Co-Supervisor, External person
  • Davidson, Penelope, Co-Supervisor
  • Bowmer, Kathleen, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Nov 2011
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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