The Murray Darling Basin (MDB) Plan is back in the headlines, even though there’s rain in many parts of the basin. This is unusual as policy makers and the media have historically only paid attention to water administration and management when there’s a chronic shortage. This unprecedented interest can be traced to several factors.
First, the revelation that some upstream farmers have possibly taken water illegally has raised the stakes and second, the rents and advantage gained by small groups are significant so when the wider population starts to get interested there’s lots of effort to scrutinise the actions of government agencies.
But setting aside the headlines and the usual rivalries, there are real reasons for being concerned about the MDB Plan and its implementation, especially if you’re an economist.
Professor Lin Crase is Professor of Economics and Head of School of Commerce. He joined UniSA in February 2016. Prior to commencing at UniSA, Lin was Professor and Director of the Centre for Water Policy and Management at La Trobe University.
Lin's research has focused on applied economics in the context of water. He has analysed water markets and the property rights that attend them, water pricing and numerous applications of water policy. Whilst his expertise includes the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia, he has also worked on projects in south Asia, Japan and Europe. Lin has published over 100 journal articles, numerous book chapters, four books and a range of other papers and opinion pieces.
Currently, Lin holds an ARC Linkage Grant with Melbourne Water and the Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. This project focuses on understanding and measuring the different benefits gained from urban waterways, especially those that relate to amenity. He was also recently awarded an ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) grant that deals with institutional issues in irrigation in Pakistan and India. Valued at $1.3M this project aims to develop a better understanding of farmers’ motivations in decentralised governance systems and how this can be used to improve water allocations in Bihar, Assam, Punjab and Sindh. Lin is also involved in other projects dealing with the value of environmental water entitlements, use of environmental water reserves in the Murray-Darling and analysis of the efficacy of alternative drought and flood policies.