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Water for Rural Production in NSW: Grand designs and changing realities

Water for Rural Production in NSW: Grand designs and changing realities

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No. 26/1997 by John Wilkinson
  • Water for rural production in New South Wales on a large-scale, through irrigation, was first undertaken by government (pp.8-12, 15-17, 19-22, 26-30, 35-36).
  • Government administration of irrigation was originally allied to a policy of populating the interior of New South Wales (pp. 8-9, 13, 27).
  • Fruit growing, and later rice growing, on small holdings were part of the envisaged means of peopling the interior (pp. 11, 23).
  • California was a particular point of reference (pp. 2, 5-8, 10-12, 23).
  • A limited government endorsement of private irrigation occurred during the 1920s and 1930s (pp. 17-19).
  • Cautions were expressed, not long after large-scale irrigation was commenced, regarding the worth of attempting to farm in the arid zones of Australia (pp. 24-25).
  • Cautions have been continuously expressed about the possible adverse environmental effects of large-scale irrigation (pp. 25, 52-55).
  • Peopling the interior, as a policy, was gradually abandoned during the 1950s and 1960s (p.31).
  • Governments gave greater endorsement, during the late 1940s, to private involvement in irrigation as government began to subsequently reconsider, and withdraw from sponsoring large-scale irrigation (pp. 30-31).
  • Government control, over the provision of water for rural production, also began to change as fruit growing, and rice growing, on smallholdings began to decline, and cotton growing on large holdings began to increase (pp. 32, 34-35, 37-45, 48-52).


I would like to thank Warren Musgrave, Tony McGlynn and Robert Towne for their assistance with this paper.

All responsibility for content, however, remains with the author and with the Library.