As a complex process, water resource management is characterised by the interactions among policy makers, stakeholders, implementers, and socio-political environments. In response, it requires designing suitable policies and managing their implementation. It also requires the irrigation sector to change its habitual behaviour to accommodate increasing environmental and community concerns and new government policies. Policy makers and irrigation practitioners are being called upon to learn from the past, and make trade-offs between the economic, social and environmental effects of water use. To build up the capacity of the Australian water industry in dealing with water management problems in the future, this paper analyses the interactions between water policy and irrigation practice in Australia, and outlines the synthesis of some findings from the reform experiences of selected countries. The insights drawn from this study will facilitate the irrigation sector to be more proactive to intended policy changes that aimed at achieving the sustainable development of industry, community and the environment.

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