The new water policy paradigm has been vigorously implemented and pursued in Australia since the early 1990s. This paper analyses how elements of this new paradigm have been adopted and perceived by irrigators within two different states of the Murray-Darling Basin in south eastern Australia and how these policies have had an impact on the lives and aspirations of farming families. The analyses are based on 700 telephone interviews with irrigators who have bought and sold water on the markets for temporary or permanent water as well as irrigators who have never traded. The analyses suggest that the impact and perception of the new policy instruments are not primarily delineated between buyers and sellers in the water market as could have been expected, but by the irrigators' position in the adjustment process, which determines how the irrigators are active in the water market.

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