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Day zero: Toward a state theory of water, property and scarcity in NSW, Australia

Authors: Rebecca Pearse*, University of Sydney
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords:
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper reports on the historical and political economic origins of water crisis in rural and regional New South Wales (NSW), Australia. In doing so, it proposes a state theoretical approach to the hydraulic infrastructures and property relations that underpin structural failures in the Murray-Darling Basin river system. I apply this framework through an interpretation of the urgent debate over the Basin collapse in NSW. In 2019, rural and regional towns in the state of NSW began to run out of water for the first time, and more are forecast to experience life without water moving into 2020. Meanwhile, irrigators have installed major expansions in private dams and infrastructure, with the assent of government water market rule changes. There is urgent need to thinking clearly about the socio-natural origins of scarcity and inequalities in the contemporary water crisis. The biophysical processes of drought and climate change can only be understood with regard to long run contradictions in the Australian state as an environment-making institution.

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