Lessons for Australia and beyond

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Australia has had its National Drought Policy in place for more than a decade. It is
therefore timely to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the policy approach that was adopted in 1992 and to draw some lessons for Australia and other countries considering an integrated policy response to drought. Many of the lessons outlined below apply particularly to industrialised countries in which the farm sector is diminishing in importance, in terms of its contribution to GDP, and in which drought does not result in widespread human disasters such as famine.
In summary, policy makers in Australia in 1992 attempted to align attitudes towards drought with the reality of a highly variable climate. The move from a disaster response to an approach based on self-reliance and risk management was based in a recognition that Australian farmers should expect droughts to occur and should factor drought risk into their business decisions. In economic and policy terms, the recommendations of the Drought Policy Review Task Force which reported in 1990 and the direction of the National Drought Policy announced in 1992 were coherent and logical and would allow the farm sector to operate efficiently and productively within the constraints of the Australian climate. However, drought responses are not only concerned with economic
and policy coherence—they are developed in a specific socio-political context. The following section discusses the context of Australia’s drought response and highlights some of the tensions which arise between different policy objectives and different values within the Australian community and the problems that have arisen in the implementation of the National Drought Policy. The final section identifies the lessons from which Australian policy makers and their counterparts elsewhere in the world can draw in considering future drought responses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Disaster Response to Risk Management: Australia's National Drought Policy
EditorsLinda Courtenay Botterill, Donald A Wilhite
Place of PublicationNetherlands
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781402031243
ISBN (Print)9781402031236
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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