Distributional and consumptive water demand impacts of different types of economic growth in two northern Australian river catchments
Using an extensive array of primary and secondary data, this paper constructs, and then uses water-use-input-output (WIO) models to look at the way in which different types of economic growth affect (a) the incomes and employment of Indigenous and non-Indigenous households and (b) consumptive water demand in both the Daly River (NT), and the Mitchell River (QLD) catchments of northern Australia. Expansion of a sector generally creates larger employment and income benefits for non-Indigenous than Indigenous households. Moreover, expansion of the agricultural sector is associated with significant growth in consumptive water demand – a major concern since underground water resources are limited and dry season flows often rely on underground aquifers. Those interested in closing the (income) gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people without placing scarce water resources at risk may thus need to seek development options that do not solely rely upon the expansion of the water intensive agricultural sector.
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