Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Public interest or political interest?

By Kerry Corke - posted Friday, 2 February 2007

The Prime Minister has proposed taking over the responsibility for the management of the water resources of the Murray-Darling basin from the states.

The presumption that the Federal Government will manage things better than the states is one you would expect from the most centralist government in the history of federation which used the corporation power to centralise workplace relations, and has had ministers argue for uniform testing of year 12 students and for the takeover of public hospitals - traditional state responsibilities.

That said, the idea the basin should be a federal responsibility appears sound.


It is a living organism that crosses a number of state borders, with a number of different interests to be balanced - from the needs of the environment, to those of the irrigators in New South Wales and Victoria, to those of the people of Adelaide who need a secure supply of drinking water.

Because of this fact, it seems to make sense in the circumstances for the central government to have the political responsibility for managing the basin.

However, it will be interesting to see whether in 10 years time the idea that the federal government is a better water manager - simply because it is the federal government - is sustained.

When he addressed the National Press Club last week, the Prime Minister was fairly clear in his view that many of the problems with water management were because of state mismanagement and capital underinvestment - that the states simply haven’t done a good job.

As he said in his speech:

“The fact that today the Commonwealth has offered to assume responsibility for a problem created entirely on the watch of state governments around Australia, namely the over-allocation of water in the Murray-Darling Basin.”


So therefore, the Feds are promising to spend $10 billion on capital infrastructure over 10 years, on things such as encasing open water canals in pipe.

Because of vertical fiscal imbalance - the fact that the federal government collects the vast majority of taxes in Australia – it has the money available to invest in infrastructure the states don't have.

So it sounds pretty good.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

6 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Kerry Corke is principal of K.M. Corke and Associates, a Canberra based public law consultancy.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Kerry Corke

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Kerry Corke
Article Tools
Comment 6 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy