Does the Australia Institute's scathing report on Ord Irrigation Scheme add up?

Written on the 7 August 2017

A Broome-based environmental group paid a Canberra-based think tank to research the economics of the Kimberley's Ord Irrigation Scheme, and the results have left the community of Kununurra feeling undervalued and frustrated. ABC Rural's Matt Brann takes a look at the Australia Institute's report, the motives behind its commissioning, and whether it holds any water.

Called Dam the Expense, the Australia Institute's report on the Ord claimed more than $1.5 billion of taxpayer money had been spent on the irrigation scheme since 1959 for little return, and that only 260 people were employed by agriculture in the region.

The report did not put a value on other benefits such as local tourism, Ramsar wetlands, hydro electricity and the entire town of Kununurra all of which would not exist if the Ord River had never been dammed.

Speaking to ABC Rural, the report's author Rod Campbell agreed those benefits "should be considered", but when asked why his report did not consider them, replied "because nobody else has".

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Source:  ABC Rural


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