Stakeholder committees and the broader struggle by advocacy groups to influence the NSW water reform process

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores how the participants who represent advocacy groups within stakeholder committees seek to influence decisions and are part of a broader struggle by those advocacy groups to influence environmental policy. It takes a structured multi-theoretical approach using the water reform process in NSW as a case study. The aim of the NSW water reform process was to pare back water extraction to a more sustainable level, ensure key environmental features were protected, and give water users adequate security. In the end, farmers obtained a windfall gain of perpetual water rights, the process cost tax-payers over $100 million, and altered water allocations by a mere 0.5%, the Department fielded over 400 questions without notice from government, after facilitating the process the Department was abolished, and several of the water-sharing plans are still to be activated.The research found that the language of cooperation and participation may mask the intended outcome of renewed state and/or vested interest power. Similarly, the language of representation may mask a network of people with entrenched values building information against opponents and operating outside these participatory forums to achieve their goals. These forums are only one part of a network of governance involving actors and interest groups. People who rely solely on these forums to achieve their outcome can be outflanked, outmanoeuvred, or overrun by individuals and groups who are more versatile in their ability to use power.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Gray, Ian, Co-Supervisor
  • Dunn, Anthony, Co-Supervisor
  • Batten, Graeme, Co-Supervisor
Award date11 Jul 2009
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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