The Murrumbidgee and Murray regions: an economic profile

Rural and remote communities Economics Australia New South Wales
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This paper examines the regions of Murrumbidgee and Murray and asseses the implications of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Murrumbidgee and Murray regions are one of Australia's recognised food bowls, growing and processing a significant proportion of all fruit and vegetables in NSW. For example, in 2005-06 the Murrumbidgee and Murray regions produced 66% and 28% respectively of citrus fruit in the State.

Over the years these regions have faced significant challenges. Recently, a major part of the debate concerning the Murrumbidgee and Murray regions has focused on the potential economic, social and environmental implications of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. 2011 saw the publication of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's (MDBA) draft plan. While the evidence to date suggests that, in the long-run, the overall social, economic and environmental benefits of the Basin Plan will outweigh the costs, it is the case that some towns in the Basin may face more significant adjustment. These include smaller towns in the NSW Murray catchment and the central and western parts of the Murrumbidgee catchment. Ironically perhaps, after experiencing a severe drought during 2003-2008, the Riverina is presently confronted by major flooding.

Previous "economic profiles" published by the Research Service have been focussed on single statistical regions (the Hunter and the Illawarra). In this case the regions of the Murrumbidgee and Murray are treated as a combined entity. This follows the approach taken in the Labour Market Information Portal (LMIP) of the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), which contains the most recent figures on employment by occupation. That approach, in turn, is based on a decision of the Australian Bureau of Statistics to treat the Murrumbidgee and the Murray as a single entity for labour force data purposes.

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