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A history of the Ord River scheme: a study in incrementalism

Graham-Taylor, Susan (1978) A history of the Ord River scheme: a study in incrementalism. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The decision to commence the Ord River Irrigation Scheme in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia had extensive political repercussions in national and state politics. The thesis is introduced with an analysis of the decision in relation to the literature of decision making theory, in particul are the two most actively supported decision making theories the rational and the incremental approaches. The thesis demonstrates that the Ord River Scheme accords with the empirical patterns of incremental decision making, The processes of decision making on the Ord River Scheme involved a seemingly endless sequence of small, incremental and unco-ordinated adjustments on the part of both the Commonwealth and the Western Australian governments.

The initial chapters trace the early exploration of the Kimberley region, the state encouraged experiments in tropical agriculture in the 1920's and the early plans for settlement in, and development of the area. Later chapters analyse the main decisions made by both the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments relating to the development of the region - decisions concerning the establishment of Kimberley Research Station, the construction of the Ord River Diversion Dam and early farming developments. The thesis then examines the attempt by both the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments to inject some rationality into the decision making process on the Ord, in the form of cost benefit analysis, the Commonwealth government's agreement of 1967 to finance the construction of the Main Ord Dam and finally, the Western Australian government's decision in 1974 to abandon cotton growing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
Supervisor(s): Bolton, Geoffrey
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