The Murray–Darling Basin is the food bowl of Australia, and it’s in trouble. What does this mean for the future – for water and food, and for the people and towns that depend on it?
In this Quarterly Essay, acclaimed journalist Margaret Simons takes a trip through the basin, all the way from Queensland to South Australia. She shows that its plight is environmental but also economic, and enmeshed in ideology and identity.
Her essay is both a portrait of the Murray–Darling Basin and an explanation of its woes. It looks at rural Australia and the failure of political processes over the last few generations to meet the needs of communities forced to bear the heaviest burden of change. It considers corruption and resource politics, drought and climate change.