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Broad public participation in water resources management is necessitated by strong public good qualities. Nevertheless, it is only a relatively recent phenomenon in Australia. Government and commercial/industrial hegemony over water resources is predominant. The procedural vehicles for public participation in Australian water governance have been consultation and litigation. Both exhibit limitations. Consultation represents an administrative and discretionary approach to involvement; flexible, widely used, but lacking in policy direction and sophistication. This chapter discusses consultation as a method of participation generally as well as in the specific circumstances of Aboriginal engagement. Adjudicative approaches benefit from an established model of judicial practice, including reasoned outcomes and methods of inquiry, but are infrequently used in Australia, whether in civil litigation or in administrative decision-making. Each procedural framework presents possible pathways to widen community engagement in management of water as a crucial public resource. Lessons from the Australia experience of public participation in water governance are identified across both consultative and adjudicative modes.
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- Public Participation in Water Resources Management in Australia: Procedure and Possibilities
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